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3 days ago
Cronulla coach Chris Anderson says the National Rugby League club should consider granting halfback Preston Campbell a release at the end of the season - but it may be a case of too little, too late.
Anderson conceded on Tuesday the club could let the Dally M player of the year - currently languishing in first division - go if they re-signed in-form No.7 Brett Kimmorley to a long-term contract.
But Campbell's manager Allan Gainey, speaking in response to the mooted offer, said it would be rejected if the brilliant halfback was unable to find a new home.
"Maybe his opportunities are too depleted," Gainey said.
"There's not a lot out there salary cap-wise. We're not entertaining a release at this stage.
"And we're not going to say that we're going to accept a release if we don't have something out there for him.
"I tend to believe that there's probably not."
Clubs are working towards completing their player rosters for next season now and most will have used up the $3.25 million under their salary cap before the end of the season.
Campbell, who signed a lucrative two-year-contract midway through last year, is unlikely to be able to match what he earns at the Sharks if he is forced to look for a new club after the season.
South Sydney and St George Illawarra have both been linked with the exciting No.7, however, the Rabbitohs solved their halfback dilemma when they signed Willie Peters last week and the Dragons are believed to have little room to move under their salary cap.
"If he can get a start somewhere else as a first grade halfback we should release him," Anderson said.
"I just think it should be fair to everyone, if we get Noddy (Kimmorley) tied up long term, we should be fair to Preston."
Campbell has struggled to regain his form of last season, when he led the Sharks to the finals and thrilled fans with his darting runs and work in broken play.
He initially asked for a release when the Sharks signed former test half Kimmorley -who won a premiership with Anderson at Melbourne in 1999 - in the pre-season.
But the club appeased the 25-year-old by promising him first shot at the No.7 jersey.
Campbell was unable to keep the halfback spot from Kimmorley, who ended up starting the season and has been Cronulla's best player, guiding the club into the top eight after an early run of disastrous losses.
The Sharks are almost certain to re-sign Kimmorley to a long-term deal, but their efforts to finalise a contract with the 25-year-old have been stymied by the dispute between his current and former managers.
Once that deal is completed, Cronulla is likely to offer Campbell a release, although Anderson admitted the final decision did not rest with him.
"It's not up to me, it's up to (the board)," he said.