Canberra Raiders props Dane Tilse and Brett White. Photo: Graham Tidy
The fortunes of the Canberra Raiders' front-rowers could depend on what happens on the NRL merry-go-round created by Andrew Fifita's switch to the Bulldogs.
Fifita's lucrative move from the Cronulla Sharks to Canterbury threatens to create a ripple effect around the competition as a host of veteran and up-and-coming props move between clubs.
The Raiders will perhaps have most front-rowers on the open market at the end of this season. Representative duo Brett White and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs will both be off contract, as will be veteran Dane Tilse.
It is also understood the management of Kangaroos and Queensland prop David Shillington, who is under contract to the Raiders until the end of 2015, was shopping him around to rival clubs last year.
Raiders chief executive Don Furner said discussions had yet to begin about new contracts for Learoyd-Lahrs, White and Tilse. The focus instead was on getting through the first month of the competition.
Furner also said the Raiders would monitor the progress of their young forwards such as Shannon Boyd, Paul Vaughan, Mark Nicholls and Sam Mataora before making decisions about their older players.
"There are around four or five blokes we'll speak to in the next couple of weeks – we want to get a couple games of footy out of the way first,'' Furner said.
"We'll look at Boydy, Paul Vaughan, Mark Nicholls and Sam Mataora and see how it goes.
"It starts earlier and earlier each year. It's only round one and people are asking, 'are you going to re-sign them?'
"Generally we let seven or eight weeks go by and see how their form is and the coaching staff looks at our roster.
"There's still a bit of time yet, it doesn't have to happen in round one.''
Melbourne Storm prop Jesse Bromwich is reportedly in the sights of the Sharks as a replacement for Fifita.
Penrith duo Tim Grant and Sam McKendry are also among those under consideration.
Both Learoyd-Lahrs (ankle) and Shillington (ribs) missed last week's season-opener against the Cowboys and have been ruled out to take on the Knights on Sunday night.
White turns 32 in April and could consider retirement if he is not offered a new contract next season.
Furner expected it would be between three to four weeks before the Raiders start working out their recruitment priorities for next season.
He also said it was important for new coach Ricky Stuart to get a true assessment of the roster before deciding on the club's priorities.
"[Stuart] has seen them train and he needs to see them play and I'd imagine he'd love four to five weeks to see them play four to five teams to form a view about them,'' Furner said.
"We meet every month about recruitment and retention and next month we'll do that again.''
The Raiders have been in negotiations with lock forward Shaun Fensom for the past month to extend his contract.
Fensom is understood to be close to agreeing on a new deal with the Raiders depite attracting the interest of the New Zealand Warriors.
The Raiders have a total of 14 players off contract at the end of the season.
Utility Josh McCrone and winger Reece Robinson will also be chasing new deals.