In the wake of Adam Reynolds' bold decision to shift from South Sydney to Brisbane next season, details have emerged about rival club Cronulla's bungled bid to secure the prized halfback.
Reynolds' move to the Broncos was made official on Thursday, but reports have since emerged that the 30-year-old knocked back a deal from the Sharks worth roughly $200,000 more than Brisbane could offer.
'AWFUL TIME': Ray Hadley's heartache over horror tragedy
According to Fox Sports, incoming Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon met with Reynolds as the South Sydney star mulled his options for 2021, believing afterwards that Reynolds was enthusiastic about joining with the Sharks.
It was when club administrators became involved, former player turned reporter James Hooper claimed, that the deal came unstuck in what he called a 'horrendous' turn of events.
“When Adam Reynolds initially had conversations with Craig Fitzgibbon, he told Fitzgibbon that he wanted to come to Cronulla and he was keen to be coached by him,” Hooper said.
“I think for whatever reason the people who were putting the deal together at Cronulla got a little bit of false hope and false confidence.
“The best deal-makers in the business, your Nick Politis, your Matt Tripps, your Wayne Bennetts, you roll out your big guns when you want to land a key signature.
“They sent the football manager — with all due respect Darren Mooney — they didn’t get the deal done.”
Speaking on NRL 360 alongside hooper, fellow rugby league reporters Paul Kent and Ben Ikin both agreed that the Sharks had failed by not securing Reynolds' signature.
Kent argued the Sharks erred by not involving senior members of the club's board in closing the deal, a mistake the Broncos avoided by having head coach Kevin Walters and CEO Dave Donaghy meet with Reynolds, suggesting they had 'got it wrong'.
“The Chief Executive and Chairman should have shown Adam Reynolds how much he meant to them by turning up and saying ‘what’s it going to take to get the deal done,” he said.
“And even if you want to bring in a Gallen or someone like that. But you’ve got bring in the big guns and just lay out the red carpet and show how important to your organisation he is.
“The second part was when they made the initial approach, they low-balled him on the deal.”
Reynolds seals three-year Broncos NRL deal
Brisbane coach Kevin Walters says Adam Reynolds is what the struggling club have been searching for since Ben Hunt's departure four years ago.
The South Sydney halfback will be 31 and entering an 11th NRL season when he begins on a three-year deal at the Broncos next year, tasked with piloting the revival of last year's wooden spooners in Walters' second season in charge.
The coach doesn't view the long-term deal as a risk despite Reynolds' age, offering a frank admission that could have stung contracted playmakers Brodie Croft, Tom Dearden and latest No.7 option Tyson Gamble.
"It's very exciting for the club; we've been chasing a player, well the club hasn't had a playmaker of his class and ability for some time, since Ben Hunt left here (in 2017)," Walters said.
"He brings a lot of experience, composure in big situations, his goal kicking, general kicking, passing game, just a typical, great halfback.
"We've had a good look at his mind and his body; he's in good shape, looks after himself and there's no problems there whatsoever."
Reynolds' future had been a point of contention for three months since the premiership-winning halfback revealed his frustration at the Rabbitohs refusing to offer him more than a one-year deal.
"I completely understand Souths' position with the salary cap and the club understands that I've made a decision for my family and our future," the 30-year-old Reynolds said via a statement.
Cronulla were the early favourites to snare the 214-game playmaker before Brisbane swooped.
Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.