D-Day is looming at the Wests Tigers with the club considering imposing a signing deadline on the big four.
At a board meeting inside Wests-Ashfield Leagues Club on Monday night, Tigers' hierarchy discussed giving an ultimatum to James Tedesco, Aaron Woods, Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks: Either sign for us, or we'll sign others.
It's a decision that will set the club and its superstar quartet on a collision course and force the four into a decision in the coming weeks.
It's remained under wraps but Wests Tigers management had actually put offers on the table to keep them at the club before the start of the season. The players didn't budge then and it's unlikely they will budge now.
The players want to know who will be coaching the Tigers in 2018 and beyond before putting pen to paper. Problem is, the club expects the process to appoint a new coach to take more than two months, and aren't willing to wait that long to establish their roster for next season.
Negotiations are ongoing with the big four, but if they stall any longer - the ultimatum is forthcoming.
Anthony Milford, Josh Reynolds, Jack Bird, Chad Townsend, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson and Gareth Widdop headline the list of off-contract playmakers, which is why the Tigers want to know if Brooks and Moses want to remain at the club.
The Tigers are also fed up over a perception they are being held to ransom by their manager, Isaac Moses, and will attempt to shift the balance of power with a take it or leave it ultimatum.
The club's football committee gathered on Tuesday to begin the hunt for a new coach. Ivan Cleary is expected to be atop that list. The club will consider all applications and are expected to go to the board with at least three recommendations.
At this stage there are no plans to fast-track the coaching appointment process, however that could change if there is an immediate interest of expression from Cleary that is rubber-stamped by the board.
Todd Payten, who coached many of the players in the Tigers' junior system, has the support of the playing group. However his departure from the club has left a sour taste in the mouth of those who matter, and given he was overlooked as Mick Potter's successor, he is unlikely to be thrown into the hot seat this time around. He is also managed by Moses.
The players don't want a say on who the club should appoint, but you can be guaranteed they want to know who it is before committing.
For established stars like Woods and Tedesco, time won't alter their value. But Brooks and Moses have raised some alarm bells at Tiger town with disappointing performances over the past fortnight.
The club still believe they are the right halves to lead the club into the future, but there are plenty of reservations over offloading big money to players who haven't found consistency at the top level.
However at Monday's press conference, chief executive Justin Pascoe and Marina Go announced their intention to move quickly on the retention of their high-profile players by highlighting their belief the players would sign before the announcement of the coach.
This goes against what their skipper said on NRL 360 the week before when he admitted he wanted to know who would be coaching the club before committing.
Woods was locked in a debate with the coach in the tunnel at GIO Stadium after the 40-point loss to the Raiders on Sunday, trying to work a way out of the hole the team had dug itself in.
He didn't call for the coach's head. The faces on the players after the shellacking at the hands of the Raiders did that. In fact, Woods publicly backed the coach and admitted it was time the club's young players began living up to the hype in an interview with Fairfax Media on the eve of Taylor's sacking.
"Everyone says we have really good young blokes, but we need to start living up to that hype mate," Woods said on Sunday night.
"It doesn't matter who our coach is. The boys love JT, so we have to go out there and play our footy. He's not the one going out there and playing. We deserve all the crap we've been getting because it's simply not good enough. We haven't been getting beat by two or four points, we're getting flogged by 30 or 40. It's not good enough.
"And we've scored one try in two weeks – that was from an intercept not a set play. We've lost our mojo in our attack because I think we're trying to score off every play. We need to play a bit more direct and straighter. Our halves have to learn how to control the game. It's not just our halves – it's the nine and the one too. We have to learn how to control a game and that's why we're a bit immature as a squad."
Those aren't the words of a man looking to leave. They are the words of a frustrated captain who has the Leichhardt postcode tattooed on his body. Tedesco, Moses and Brooks look up to their skipper. His movements are pivotal to their future. His movements are even more pivotal to the future of the Wests Tigers.
It's easy to get caught up in the drama of rugby league and sometimes forget just how insignificant it really is.
The Wests Tigers were given a dose of reality last week when some sad news surrounding the health of Elijah Taylor's daughter came to light.
Taylor is one of the NRL's genuine good guys, but his world was turned upside down when his baby girl was admitted into intensive care last week fighting for her life.
The players' hearts went out to their teammate, who withdrew from the match against the Raiders to be with his family.
"There are bigger things in the world than football," Aaron Woods said. "And we just want him to look after his little one because it's really sad at the moment what he's going through."
Our thoughts are with the Taylor family.