Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Nuuausala on top of hit list

Frank-Paul Nuuausala has played 111 NRL games for the Roosters since he was released by the Warriors in 2006. Photo / Getty Images
Frank-Paul Nuuausala has played 111 NRL games for the Roosters since he was released by the Warriors in 2006. Photo / Getty Images

Destructive Sydney Roosters forward Frank-Paul Nuuausala has emerged as a potential Warriors target.

Nuuausala, who played nine tests for the Kiwis in 2009 and 2010, has yet to agree new terms with his club and with every passing week, a new contract looks more unlikely.

The Herald on Sunday understands that Nuuausala is one of the names on the Warriors' shopping list for next season. Senior officials from the club have been in contact with the player's representatives, with talks likely to continue this week.

On several levels, a move to Mt Smart makes sense. Coming home to Auckland (Nuuausala was born in Otahuhu and played for the Mangere East Hawks as a junior before moving to Sydney in 2006) would hold some appeal, with many of his large family (he has 12 siblings) living in New Zealand. He has also worked with Warriors coach Matt Elliott when he was assistant coach at Bondi Junction last year.

There would also be some sense of redemption for the 26-year-old, who was cut by Ivan Cleary when the Australian took over as Warriors coach at the end of the 2005 season.

Nuuausala had been at the club since the age of 14 and was a promising talent but didn't then have the right work ethic, according to Cleary. Nuuausala has since said it was a turning point in his career, convincing him to knuckle down and make the most of his talent.

However, the Warriors will face competition for Nuuausala's signature. Parramatta - who announced last week that they were releasing 12 players - are also interested and there is a link.

Eels coach Ricky Stuart originally brought him to Australia in 2006. The Sharks and Dragons are also in the hunt.

There would also be financial hurdles, as Nuuausala is likely to be able to earn more across the Tasman than he would in Auckland.

Nuuausala, who is nicknamed 'Frank-Paul the Wrecking Ball', has had his critics over the years for being inconsistent but there is no doubt that at his peak, he is one of the more damaging runners in the game. At 1.84m and 105kg, he can be almost unstoppable close to the line and is a mobile, athletic forward.

He also has some ball-playing ability which the Warriors still seem to lack in the pack, aside from the offloading skills of Feleti Mateo.

He's also tough. In the round six match against the Titans last year, Nuuausala played on for 25 minutes with a broken jaw after copping an elbow from Luke Bailey. He needed a plate inserted and teeth removed to repair the damage and was unable to eat solid food for almost a month.

Nuuausala has played 111 games for the Roosters since his debut in early 2007, scoring 14 tries. So far in 2013, he has played seven games, averaging 37 minutes per match. He has averaged 58 running metres per game, along with around 20 tackles and seven hit-ups.

After a slow start to the season, Nuuausala has come into his own over the past few weeks in the matches against the Sea Eagles, Cowboys and Storm.

Along with the pursuit of Nuuausala, the Warriors are believed to have already locked up Cronulla halfback Chad Townsend and remain favourites to sign Wigan fullback Sam Tomkins.

Sources from England indicated to the Herald on Sunday last week that the Tomkins deal is "all but done" though neither party is yet to make an announcement.

It is believed the Warriors remain interested in another outside back, ideally a centre, although there is a dearth of quality centres and wingers on the open market.

- Herald on Sunday

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