Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan is beginning to plan for life without Jarryd Hayne, but is yet to confront the Titans' marquee man about his reported return to Parramatta.
The first-time NRL coach says he would love to coach the two-time Dally M Medal winner next season and, as it stands, expects him to be there.
But Brennan admits there "may be some merit" to reports of Hayne's expected departure early next year and has assessed his stocks at fullback as a result.
Hayne has denied speaking with Sydney clubs about a return and is obligated to be back on deck for Titans preseason early next year, following a holiday after completing the Rugby League World Cup with Fiji.
But Brennan said constant reports linking Hayne with his former club could not be ignored.
"There may be some merit to that, I'm not sure, but until I speak to Jarryd or his management I've just got to expect that he's going to be here after the new year ready to rip in," the coach said.
"I've left him alone on purpose to concentrate on Fiji.
"If Jarryd has some circumstances where he needs to be somewhere else then I'll deal with it when I have to."
Hayne's departure would throw the race to play fullback wide open, with Brennan happy to nominate current squad members Dan Sarginson, Tyronne Roberts-Davis and Brendan Elliot as options.
But, in a sign Brennan has been planning ahead, the coach also tossed up the prospect of going shopping for a replacement.
"If Jarryd was to leave, the salary cap position would change a bit and as you know there's a lot of chopping and changing in rugby league," Brennan said.
"I'm always looking at how you can strengthen different positions; I wouldn't be doing my job if I wasn't focusing on having positions covered if players move on or get injured."
He said he wouldn't sign another fullback "for the sake of it", preferring to look locally first in accordance with the philosophy he preached when signed by the club.
"We're not going to be club that is a dumping ground, we're going to be very selective in the guys and quality of person we bring into the Gold Coast Titans."