By Brad Walter December 9, 2005 GOLD Coast have made a formal offer to Great Britain international Sean O'Loughlin after all but giving up hope of signing former Australia centre Jamie Lyon. The Titans were given permission to negotiate with Lyon for two months by Parramatta, who still have the 23-year-old St Helens star under contract. But, despite making a lucrative offer, Lyon turned them down and is widely tipped to join Manly in 2007. Gold Coast executive director Michael Searle yesterday said that the NRL's 16th club was unlikely to be able to offer Lyon the same money if he was still available after the June 30 anti-tampering deadline, and had now turned their attention to O'Loughlin and Leeds fullback Richie Mathers. Both are England representatives, with O'Loughlin captaining his country to victory in the 2003 European Cup before going on to make his Great Britain debut in last year's Tri-Nations tournament. A cousin of former Great Britain skipper Andy Farrell, O'Loughlin missed most of the 2005 season with a knee injury, but he is set to be appointed captain of Wigan next year in a bid to discourage him from following teammate Brian Carney to Australia. Carney will play for Newcastle next season before joining the Titans in 2007. "It's a massive decision for him and I know that Wigan are keen to keep him but we've offered him an opportunity and expect to know within the next month or so whether he is prepared to take it," Searle said. "A lot of players over there want to challenge themselves and I think the more players that get out here the better Great Britain is going to go. It's a little bit like the Kiwis - they have benefited enormously as an international team because the majority of their players play in the NRL." Searle said he was yet to table an offer to Mathers but would do so early next season after the England A star last month visited the Gold Coast with Leeds teammate and close friend Danny McGuire. "All the feedback that we got over there from people like David Waite is that Richie is a player of the future so we'll keep negotiating with him and if we got a decision by May we would then know if we have the fullback position locked away," Searle said. Asked about Lyon, he said: "I think we made a very attractive offer for him that certainly indicated his status as one of the top four centres in the game but he knocked it back so we've got to make other plans. He wants to go to market after July but from our point of view, if we were still interested, we would have to put a reduced offer to him because we've now got other priorities." Parramatta chief executive Denis Fitzgerald said he would consult Lyon's former teammates as well as the club's new coach before deciding whether to try to lure him back to Parramatta, but that the salary cap would also be an issue. Fitzgerald declined to comment on negotiations for Newcastle's Michael Hagan to take charge in 2007 from Brian Smith, who was one of five head coaches not in attendance at the NRL's annual conference. Those coaches and players who were present strongly endorsed the concept of full-time referees and professional recruitment squads outlined by the NRL. So far, nine referees have accepted salary packages ranging from $65,000 per year to more than $100,000 but grand final referee Tim Mander isn't among them and will retire, while Sean Hampstead and Paul Simpkins want to remain part-time to continue their careers with the police. In other news, Penrith directors Greg Alexander, Col Bentley and Greg Chapman have assured chairman Barry Walsh ahead of tomorrow's elections that they were not part of a ticket headed by former members of the so-called "footy five", whose unsuccessful bid to grab control of the board in the 2002 election led to the Temby inquiry into the affairs of the club.