South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett insists he hasn't approached James Roberts to replace Greg Inglis but fears self-interested clubs weighing in on the issue with salary cap concerns could hurt retiring players.
Inglis was back at Rabbitohs training on Thursday watching from the stands, as Bennett appointed England skipper Sam Burgess Souths captain ahead of their Good Friday clash with Canterbury.
But Inglis' on-field replacement and how his departure will be managed under the cap is still unclear.
Debate has raged around whether his remaining salary should be struck from the cap, with the NRL yet to make a call.
Souths have also been linked with Brisbane centre Roberts, who found his best form under Bennett there last season.
"I've had no conversation with James Roberts or any other players at this point in time," Bennett said.
"We just need to see what is available out there. We want quality not quantity and we need to be patient."
Bennett also said he wasn't sure how much cap space Souths had.
Inglis has reportedly walked away from $500,000 this season and $1 million next, and will be paid far less to fulfil ambassadorial and coaching roles.
"We haven't discussed salary cap, I have not had a discussion with Greg about it, I have not had a discussion with (head of football) Shane Richardson about it," Bennett said.
"It wasn't the issue. The issue was Greg's welfare and what was best for Greg. We'll fix all the rest of it up, we'll make it work."
The veteran coach said it wouldn't worry him if space wasn't freed up following Inglis' departure.
However he believed the game needed to do more to allow clubs to support players financially and with post-football roles, without other clubs taking issue.
"Was I going to make Greg Inglis run around and do something he didn't want to do for 18 months? No," Bennett said.
"I can't understand (the skepticism).
"We treat our great players poorly sometimes. I've been at enough clubs and seen enough guys get pensioned out and looked after once they've finished their playing careers.
"There should be more dispensation for these sorts of things so they can exit the game in a manner that is proper to what they have given the game.
"Why wouldn't we look after them? Why would we think we're ripping someone off because it's a good idea and should be done."
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Souths have won four of seven Good Friday clashes with Canterbury.
* Souths have scored the most second-half points (72) this season).
* Canterbury make the fewest errors in the NRL (7.4 per game).
(Stats: Fox Sports)
Australian Associated Press