Bulldogs workhorse Aidan Tolman has been given permission to negotiate with rival clubs as reports emerge of interest from the Sharks.
Seven reporter Josh Massoud shared the news on Twitter, saying the Bulldogs have allowed Tolman to consider his options elsewhere given he's no longer a first-choice prop at the club.
Lots of questions about Aidan Tolman. Here’s the current situation: @NRL_Bulldogs have given permission to negotiate with rivals at the request of his manager. The club is not pushing him out. Therefore it won’t pay anything considerable toward a contract elsewhere.— Josh Massoud (@josh_massoud) March 22, 2018
Tolman has seemingly slipped down the front row pecking order in the eyes of new coach Dean Pay due to his high workload, low intensity style.
With Aaron Woods coming to the club, his starting days appear to be over.
Pay promised a return to the 'Dogs of War' as coach of the Bulldogs, and 29-year-old Tolman doesn't seem to fit that bill.
Right on cue, Massoud believes the Cronulla Sharks are in need of a player like Tolman, with 36-year-old skipper Paul Gallen slowing down, and going down with another injury before Round 3.
Paul Gallen being out with a foot problem gives a good insight into why @Cronulla_Sharks are keen to recruit Aidan Tolman ASAP. The skipper is 37 in August and his body will clearly be tested to survive the season unscathed.— Josh Massoud (@josh_massoud) March 22, 2018
However they'll have to pay up big for the hard-working prop, who's believed to be on a lucrative salary until his contract ends at the end of 2020.
Massoud stated the Dogs are "not prepared to pay anything significant" towards his contract if he does depart the club.
Because Pay and the Bulldogs still want Tolman as an option, they're unlikely to let him go any time soon unless another club is willing to pay up big for him.
Meanwhile, Pay has responded to his team's disappointing start to the season by handing Jeremy Marshall-King his first career start for Friday's clash against Penrith.
Marshall-King was one of the first signings Pay made when he replaced Des Hasler late last year, luring the playmaker just days after he signed a one-year extension at the Wests Tigers.
"From day one I met him, he impressed me right from then. He just said he wanted an opportunity," Pay said on Thursday.
"He said he wanted to come here and train as hard as he could and just wanted an opportunity. You get a kid that's saying that, they want to come here and play football.
"That was the main thing that struck me."
After making his NRL debut in the Tigers' final match of the season last year, Marshall-King has played sparingly off the bench for the Bulldogs over the opening fortnight.
But Pay said he liked what he saw and is keen to see how the 22-year-old fares as a starter.
"When we first got here, we wanted competition for spots and Jeremy has been really good through the off-season," he said.
"We've put him on the bench for the first couple of games and I think he can do a job there for us. That's the reason that we've picked him there."