Johnathan Thurston and Peter Parr Photos: Getty Images
The calendar may read November 1 but North Queensland boss Peter Parr is bracing for speculation about off-contract superstar Johnathan Thurston that has more in common with April 1.
The NRL's silly season officially kicked off on Thursday.
And Parr admits it looms as the silliest.
The 2018 NRL salary cap is still not determined.
Some of the game's biggest names are off contract in 2017.
Fifteen alone at the Cowboys.
And at the top of the tree is Thurston - not that Parr will need reminding.
Johnathan Thurston Photo: Getty Images
Parr is resigned to reading headlines linking Thurston to all manner of moves now that rivals are free to talk with players off contract in 2017 from Thursday.
"It's part of the territory, we have been through it before," Parr told AAP.
"It is a subject the media have a fascination for so we accept that.
"We will try to be as polite and professional as we can, then go away and do our best to keep our team together."
At least the early signs are good for Parr.
Thurston, 33, has publicly dismissed a future move to England.
And he has not ruled out playing at least another 12 months at North Queensland.
It may all hinge on 2017 when Thurston may ditch State of Origin duty to concentrate on winning a second title with the Cowboys.
"If he is keen to continue carrying on beyond next year then we are confident of working something out with him," Parr said of Thurston, who first played for North Queensland in 2005.
"I would be surprised if we could not...but I haven't started formal talks.
"He has always spoken very highly of the club, region and people - we are hopeful that will play a part in his decision when the time comes."
Matt Scott Photos: Getty Images
Then there's the rest of the Cowboys' off contract stars including Test prop Matt Scott, Dally M Medallist Jason Taumalolo and prodigy Kalyn Ponga.
"It's more difficult when you don't know what the (2018) cap is," Parr said.
"The sooner we have clarity the better but I think we have enough information to go forward - we are not anxious."
Player Agents Association president Steve Gillis said other clubs weren't so fortunate due to 2018 cap uncertainty.
Parr may be bracing for silly season headlines reminiscent of April Fool's Day.
But Gillis fears clubs may not know more about the 2018 cap figure until that date next year - at the earliest.
"It's disappointing that the TV deal is done and we can't even forecast what the cap might be," Gillis told AAP.
"I have heard it might be April, May or as late as October next year.
"It is certainly inconvenient.
"It's not a perfect level playing field."
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