Warriors assistant coach Stacey Jones wants Shaun Johnson to stay at the club, as doubts continue to swirl over the playmaker's future at Mt Smart.
Jones, who is currently in England as assistant to Michael Maguire on the Kiwis tour, hopes an agreement can be reached but understands it could be a protracted process.
Johnson's current contract expires at the end of next season, and it was revealed last week that he has been given permission to talk to other clubs and test his value on the open market.
It's understood there are doubts at the Warriors whether Johnson is worth his annual million dollar price tag.
That's already led to feverish speculation on both sides of the Tasman, and the Herald revealed on Thursday that the Canberra Raiders are preparing to table an offer for the 28-year-old, and more Australian clubs with follow.
But Jones, who is a bona fide Warriors legend, regarded by many as the greatest player in the history of the club, hopes Johnson can remain with the Penrose-based franchise.
"For sure, yeah definitely," Jones told Martin Devlin on Newstalk ZB. "I think everyone wants him to stay at the Warriors.
But that's up to Shaun and the club to sort the details out there but I am sure everyone wants Shaun to stay at the Warriors. We know what he can do and he's a very good person to have around the club. We are hoping that things could get sorted, but I know it could take some time."
Jones has been an assistant to Stephen Kearney since the start of the 2017 season, and is an expert on halfback play but said he may not have much input into the eventual decision.
"Not really...no," said Jones, when asked if he had had a say in the process to date. "But I mean this has only just come about recently and I am over here too. I don't really have too much knowledge of what is going on..but I understand the situation that Shaun and the club are in and that is just the way the sport is with player contracts.
"Shaun is not the first person to go through something like this and he is not going to be the last. I'm confident things will get sorted at some stage."
Johnson has often been compared to Jones – and there are obvious similarities (homegrown prodigies, natural flair and ability to make the unpredictable happen) but also plenty of differences.
Jones had a longer background in league, playing from his primary school days, and developed into much more of a natural organiser, though there were always sprinkles of magic.
He also wasn't one for the celebrity lifestyle, never really that comfortable in the spotlight.
Jones has watched Johnson develop since his NRL debut in 2011 – often at close quarters with his various Kiwis and Warriors roles – and says the 28-year-old has improved significantly in the last 12 months.
"For Shaun it is about being consistent with his game and I thought this year he was really good," said Jones. "Defensively he has probably had little problems in the past but this year I thought he defended really well. And Blake Green complemented his style of football.
Can he get better? Everyone can get better. But we know what Shaun can do. He had a really good year for the club, played really well against Australia and wasn't too bad against England [last] weekend too. We will look to him to put in another good performance this weekend."
Jones added that the constant debate and discussion over Johnson's future hadn't been an issue or distraction for the Kiwis, as they build towards Sunday's (Monday NZT) make or break test against England in Liverpool.
"We have seen bits and pieces but Shaun is professional," said Jones. He's knows he has got to do a job here and when that time comes to sort his other stuff out – it's a big business this game – Shaun will deal with it. But at the moment we know Shaun is pretty focussed on doing a job for his country."
"The distraction is what the media make of it. We understand that; [the] media are a big part of this and can paint a picture that people want to read and want to hear. But Shaun is a very professional person and it won't distract him at all what's going on."