Wayne Bennett would keep Adam Reynolds if he was still in charge of South Sydney next year, but the star halfback remains in a stalemate with the NRL club.
Reynolds' management and Rabbitohs counterparts met again on Wednesday when neither party refused to budge on the length of a new deal for the off-contract star.
Souths are adamant they cannot offer more than one year, while the 30-year-old has stated he's resigned to moving elsewhere if he can't get a longer deal.
Bennett has stayed out of the negotiations given he won't be coach next year, but he also knows how hard it is to bring young halfbacks through.
And when asked if he would be pushing to retain the premiership-winning halfback if he was coaching the club in 2022, Bennett suggested he would.
"I just know how hard it is to develop them, and so when you have an experienced one I don't like to let them go," Bennett said, speaking before Wednesday's meeting.
"But it's a decision the club has to handle and they will handle it.
"I think it will be resolved pretty soon. There's an important meeting today from what I understand.
"Our people here know their position and they will probably just reinforce that today. And Adam and his people have a decision to make."
If Reynolds does leave Souths, 21-year-old Blake Taaffe would be the favourite to assume the No.7 jersey.
Reynolds would be a handy pick-up for any side looking for a franchise playmaker, including North Queensland and Wests Tigers.
The Cowboys are known to be interested and have struggled for consistency at No.7, while Luke Brooks has long been derided at the Tigers.
Kyle Flanagan, Brodie Croft, Jake Clifford, Ash Taylor and Jack Cogger are among other heralded young halves who have endured difficult starts to their NRL careers.
"It's extremely hard for any club, not just Souths, if you bring young players," Bennett said.
"You can see so many young guys out there now who are struggling with the positions.
"I was talking to Alfie (Langer) the other day and when he started at the Broncos he was going to be a star player.
"But if he didn't have Wally Lewis or Gene Miles or Greg Dowling or a whole lot of guys at the end of their career, I don't think he would have become the player he was.
"The better your team is the better it is for them. But if your team is struggling and you're playing halfback you are probably no chance."
Bennett also launched an impassioned defence of Reynolds' training workload ahead of Thursday night's clash with Brisbane.
Reynolds' camp was said to be frustrated at claims he was on restricted duties since fracturing his back in 2019, in what could have been seen as an attempt to put off potential suitors.
"So he should be (annoyed). It does him no justice," Bennett said.
"Unless he is genuinely injured he doesn't miss a session."
Australian Associated Press