Melbourne have made inquiries about an early NRL release for out-of-favour Brisbane star Xavier Coates with coach Craig Bellamy saying it's harsh not to pick him if he is fit.
The Queensland speedster has been left out of the Broncos side again this weekend and looks increasingly unlikely to play another game for the club before he joins the Storm next season.
With the August 1 deadline approaching for mid-season transfers, however, Coates could yet land at Melbourne in the coming weeks.
On Thursday Bellamy confirmed the Storm had asked the Broncos about a release but did not seem optimistic of his chances of landing the 20-year-old early.
"It's something we've had a look at," he said before Friday's clash with North Queensland.
"I don't know if the Broncos have put a line through him or not.
"If they have you'd think they wouldn't be against letting him go early.
"If it happens, it happens, if it doesn't it doesn't.
"It's up to the Broncos and what they want to do.
"He's a contracted player with the club there, so if they don't want to play him, they're well within their rights there.
"But it seems a bit harsh and I'm not quite sure what that does to Xavier's mental well-being if he's fit to play and he's not playing.
"At the end of the day that's the Broncos decision and they'll do what they think is right for them."
The Broncos formalised a release for Tevita Pangai Junior to join Penrith for the remainder of the season, and also released Matt Lodge to the Warriors recently in a mass clean out and rebuild of the club.
They had hoped to keep Origin young gun Coates before he signed a two-year-deal to join the NRL premiers.
The top-placed Storm are on a 14-game winning streak and could barely be improved, but Bellamy insists it could happen by adding Coates.
"He'd add a bit of depth to our outside backs, a bit of speed and a bit of size," he said.
"At the end of the day we're not going to concern ourselves too much with something that might not happen or is unlikely to happen.
"Personally I probably won't (keep pursuing the release for Coates) but a couple of other people in our club might.
"My job is to concern myself with what we've got not what we haven't got or what we might get or what we'll get next year."
Australian Associated Press