David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Titans eye Hurrell, axing first step in Warriors overhaul

Centre Konrad Hurrell may be playing at Mt Smart Stadium again this season, just in different colours.

The blockbusting but inconsistent centre has been linked to the Gold Coast Titans after being released yesterday by the Warriors following months of uncertainty over his future, despite being under contract until the end of 2018.

While he'd been linked with several English Super League clubs, it's believed the Titans are the frontrunners to snare the Tongan international.

Late on Wednesday, the club confirmed it was in discussions with Hurrell's management.

"We are also aware there has been other interest in the 24-year-old centre," a statement from the club read.

The Warriors and Titans clash in round 17 at Mt Smart Stadium and again five weeks later on the Gold Coast.

Titans' coach Neil Henry has made it no secret the club is on the hunt for an outside back.

Hurrell's manager Richard White refused to disclose which candidate was the favourite for his client's services.

"We've had various conversations in the last little while," he said."We're pretty close on a couple, but I just can't confirm that at the moment. We will know a bit more tomorrow."White said Hurrell was overwhelmed by the interest in him.

"He's humbled by the support he has had since the news broke today," he said.

Hurrell's departure could be the first of many difficult steps towards creating real change at the club.

The 24-year-old cult hero came to embody many of the perceived negatives that have defined the club in recent years. Most centre on a lack of professionalism and poor discipline.

"The best thing for him, (the) best thing for the club is that he go and find a contract somewhere else," Warriors managing director Jim Doyle told Radio Sport's Kent Johns.

Since bursting on to the scene with the Junior Warriors in 2011, Hurrell had all the makings of becoming a modern day Mal Meninga.

His footballing maturity was not helped by the dysfunctional and tumultuous environment at the Warriors over the past five years, but equally, Hurrell has lacked the drive and application to reach the heights many thought he was destined to climb.

And while Hurrell's playing development stuttered his off-field profile grew disproportionately. All too often it involved unwanted controversy.

As first revealed by the Herald on Sunday 12 days ago, the already strained relations between Hurrell and the Warriors reached breaking point in the wake of the recent prescription pills and energy drinks scandal.

It was the last straw for the club, who had shown great patience when he turned up to last year's pre-season training out of shape, after previously finding himself embroiled in social media scandals and other late-night indiscretions.

In 2014, Hurrell was investigated by the Warriors and NRL's integrity unit after a video showing him involved in a sex act appeared online. Last year, he was fortunate to escape punishment after attending a midweek concert in Auckland in between the Warriors suffering consecutive 50-16 thrashings against the Cowboys and Wests Tigers.

These were not isolated episodes of misbehaviour and several other disciplinary matters were never made public.

Each time he pleaded innocence, expressing more regret rather than remorse. That line wore thin earlier this month, however, when he protested his punishment after accompanying five team-mates on an unsanctioned late night out.

Hurrell was the only player who did not admit to taking prescription pills but, along with the rest of the group, was stood down from test selection.

Just when he should have been keeping a low profile he dug himself into a deeper hole by sending an ill-timed retweet that implied Warriors coach Andrew McFadden had lost the support of his players.

Once more, Hurrell insisted it was not his fault, but this time there would be real consequences.

Doyle and McFadden have frequently described the recent pills saga as a catalyst for change at the club.

Hurrell's enforced exit is the first real evidence the club is acting on that statement.
Despite the team's poor run of form the Warriors appear to be standing by McFadden although his position at the helm remains tenuous.

Releasing more underperforming and ill-disciplined players is the next step. More will follow, that is certain. Just how many remains to be seen.

- AAP and David Skipwith

- NZ Herald

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