Trent Hodkinson could turn out for Manly as soon as Saturday night's NRL clash with Melbourne, with coach Trent Barrett hopeful of signing him quickly from Cronulla.
Barrett confirmed on Monday that Manly were eyeing the former NSW Origin playmaker as an answer to the problem five-eighth role, which has summed up their early-season woes.
He was hopeful a deal with Hodkinson could even be completed later on Monday, which would allow him to train twice with the team this week before Saturday's clash with the defending premiers.
The move would allow Dylan Walker to shift back to the centres, and stop Barrett from being forced to call up exiled playmaker Jackson Hastings from reserve grade.
"If we get him (Hodkinson) in early enough we'll have two sessions this week," Barrett told Sky Sports Radio.
"The way we play and his role in the team and he's an experienced player. It would be pretty seamless I think.
"It would be a bonus if he was available to be selected. We'll have a look at things this week."
Hodkinson's arrival at Manly would represent a significant shift for the 29-year-old, who opted against heading to the club amid the salary-cap scandal earlier this year.
He instead moved from Newcastle to Cronulla, where he has played four games for the Sharks but remains stuck behind Matt Moylan for the No.6 jersey.
But with Manly's cap penalties now at least somewhat clearer, the door is open for Hodkinson to return to the club where he debuted.
The move would also alleviate some of the pressure on halfback Daly Cherry-Evans following the season-ending injury to five-eighth Lachlan Croker, as the club attempts to continue turning the corner after Saturday's win over Brisbane.
"He will give us another older player in the joint," Barrett said.
"He'll give us a steady head. He brings a really good kicking game and a level of calmness to the team.
"Cherry has done a terrific job in the past three weeks but it's difficult when all the kicking and play-making duties are on one person.
"Cherry is a runner and has made a really good fist of it in the past few weeks – especially against Brisbane."
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