NRL: Vatuvei looking at other options

By Michael Brown

Manu Vatuvei is open to a move away from the Warriors but the club are keen to keep the winger and hope to table a new offer for him soon. Photo / Getty Images.
Manu Vatuvei is open to a move away from the Warriors but the club are keen to keep the winger and hope to table a new offer for him soon. Photo / Getty Images.

Manu Vatuvei is open to a move away from the Warriors but the club are keen to keep the winger and hope to table a new offer for him soon.

The 26-year-old is off contract at the end of the season and his agent Peter Brown has reportedly already received offers from rival NRL clubs as well as rugby union outfits in England and France.

Vatuvei is keen to see what interest there is in him outside of Auckland before settling on his next move. He's been a fixture at the Warriors since making his debut against Souths in 2004 and is the club's leading tryscorer with 102 in 152 NRL games.

"It's pretty hard," said Vatuvei, whose preference is to remain playing league. "It's just a case of finding what else is out there. It's a good time in my career right now. I'm going on 27, so not long to go. If I was a bit younger I wouldn't worry about it.

"My choice would be to stay but it's also what is best for my family. If they want to move, I have to move because I don't want to be somewhere where they aren't happy.

"I have been here 10 years now. It's tough but if the club is looking somewhere else I might have to move on. If I can play well, then hopefully I will be lucky. I need to impress them as much as anyone else and hopefully they still think I have the goods and sign me up."

The Warriors haven't been in a hurry to talk to any players about contracts beyond this season as they allow new coach Matt Elliott to run his eye over his new team. They are probably also mindful of the fact players and agents often start talking about contracts publicly in the hope of driving up the asking price.

Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah said they were keen to retain Vatuvei but were also aware other clubs would be circling.

"We think of him highly and always have," Scurrah said. "We have already talked about Manu and he's coming up to a testimonial year at the club. He still has a lot of rugby league ahead of him and is looking in great shape this season.

"We are looking at recruitment decisions now and mapping out where we want to be. We have a fair idea of what we want and what positions might need strengthening. Matt has been highly impressed with Manu and he is doing all the right things from the new coach's point of view."

It helped he arrived at pre-season training in good shape. He lost 8kg during his training for last year's Fight for Life boxing bout against Olympic rower Eric Murray and trimmed down to 104kg.

He said it left him the fittest he had ever been but, if anything, he felt he lost too much weight and has since beefed up a little sit at 106kg. It's a frame he wants to maintain throughout the NRL season.

"I can tell the difference between 112kg and now," he said. "I'm more active now and can get around the field quicker and last a bit longer. I'm much fitter. But game fitness is different and that's something I need to get back once we start playing.

"With my knees, it's another bonus losing all that weight because it put a lot of stress on my knees being heavier. I think I'm getting a bit stronger, too. I just think I'm a bit hungrier to do better than I did last year."

It wasn't a vintage Vatuvei year, as he scored 12 tries in 20 games, and was overlooked for the Kiwis' test against Australia last October. He is still seen as one of the most potent wingers in the game and wants to prove it to a lot of those watching this year.

- APNZ

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