By Daniel Lang - Managing Director
With the 2018 NRL season in the rearview mirror, the Sydney Roosters off celebrating a much-deserved Grand Final triumph and 15 other sides plotting how they're going to bring them down and win it themselves next season, it's worth casting our eye over which high-profile stars remain un-contracted for next season.
It's probably fair to suggest that had things panned out a little differently on the last Sunday of the season, we may have been here memorializing the fine career of Cameron Smith.
But with Grand Final defeat fresh in the memory, Smith looks likely to play on in 2019 and while I can't imagine he'll do so anywhere but in Melbourne, it does remain interesting that he and the club have yet to come to terms on a new deal.
Both Smith and the Storm have publicly confirmed they want their incredibly successful partnership to continue, but until a contract is signed, speculation will continue to grow about a possible swansong move away in a similar move to former long-time friend Cooper Cronk.
I'd suggest it's still more likely Smith will be in a Storm jersey come 2019, but there is a growing school of thought he might wind up finishing his career back in Brisbane, where he started out as a youngster with Norths Devils.
Tevita Pangai Junior
Perhaps one of the most exciting young forwards in the game, Brisbane will be desperate to lock down Tevita Pangai Junior for a lengthy period but as things stand, he's still on the market.
After an acrimonious split with his former management team, Pangai Junior can't officially sign a new contract until November and has previously stated he has no interest in leaving Brisbane but with the ongoing issue between club bosses and coach Wayne Bennett yet to play out, nothing is set in stone just yet.
Bennett won't be at the club in 2020, but should he leave early, Pangai Junior, who is fiercely loyal to his coach, may opt to follow the veteran mentor elsewhere.
Much like Cameron Smith, most expect tevita Pangai Junior will be staying put in 2019 and beyond.
Sutton, a long-time club legend at Redfern, turned back the clock and put together a fine season in 2018 but as things stand, he is off-contract and looking for a new gig next season.
Having passed the 300 game milestone for the club this year, the veteran back-rower is keen to play out another season for the Rabbitohs, but he's yet to come to terms on a new deal with the club which gave him his start way back in 2004.
Coach Anthony Seibold has publicly stated he's keen to bring Sutton back for 2019, so this one appears another formality on the face of it, but until the deal is done, speculation will continue to mount.
Despite his strong resurgence last season, it's unlikely many other clubs would be interested in luring Sutton away from Redfern, even on a one-year deal.
Despite suggestions the Queensland representative winger remains keen on a controversial switch to the back-row, Corey Oates appears to be highly in demand and could be one of the few high-profile off-contract stars who could yet switch clubs for the 2019 season.
There is plenty of interest in Oates around the league, with the Bulldogs reportedly deep in negotiations with Oates' management team, but his asking price appears to be a stumbling block to a deal being sort out in the short-term.
Corey Oates has been one of Brisbane's best over the last few seasons and looms as a highly attractive marquee recruit for a number of clubs around the league.
Will the 'Hayne Plane' take flight again in 2019?
The veteran back is a highly controversial and divisive figure in rugby league circles and would probably not have any other clubs interested in his services for next season should he and the Parramatta Eels not come to terms on an extension of the one-year deal he took to return to the club after an ill-fated spell with the Gold Coast Titans.
While Hayne is yet to go on the record with his plans for next season, there is a school of thought that he may decide to take another crack at making it big in Fijian rugby.
One of the younger brothers of former representative star Michael Jennings, Robert Jennings came of age at South Sydney in 2018 and you'd have to expect the club are keen to keep him around at Redfern over the next couple of years.
Jennings bagged 19 tries this year as the finisher on a dangerous South Sydney backline and looked to have come to grips with club footy at the highest level.
For his part, it's safe to assume Jennings will want to continue working with coach Anthony Seibold and there appears no real reason the club would want to part company with him at this stage. Another one where a deal seems likely before too long.