NRL: Who are the Warriors chasing for 2017?

By Dale Budge

Benji Marshall of the Dragons runs the ball against the Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images
Benji Marshall of the Dragons runs the ball against the Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images

The Warriors are likely to add only one significant new signing to their roster for 2017. While they have freed up some cash after the departure of Konrad Hurrell, retirement of Ben Henry and the impending exit of Thomas Leuluai they have upgraded several players during the course of the season.

They will spend the majority of their remaining cap space on one impact player and will round out their 2017 roster with a couple of low end signings.

The herald.co.nz casts an eye across the free agent pool for 2017 and assesses which players might interest the Warriors and what interest the club might have in a potentional deal.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona (good chance)
The tall forward can play in the front row and in the back row and would add a point of difference to a Warriors pack with his aggression and ability to offload. Off-contract with the Melbourne Storm there had been talk of the 20-year-old switching to rugby union with the Hurricanes earlier in the season but nothing has come of it.

The Storm are believed to be keen to re-sign him but spent big re-signing Cooper Cronk and Cameron Munster already this season. If Asofa-Solomona was to leave Melbourne, crossing back this side of the Tasman would make sense.

Kenny Bromwich (fair chance)
The younger Bromwich comes off contract with the Melbourne Storm at the end of the season. While he is not likely to be a top target for the Warriors he could be a handy acquisition to round out the club's roster depending on what other interest there is in the versatile forward. As with Asofa-Solomona, the Storm would like to keep him but there is only so much money to go around. If Bromwich can't get something done with Melbourne, a move back home to Auckland would be appealing.

Thomas Burgess (little chance)
The Rabbitohs front rower isn't actually off-contract but rumours in Sydney have him being shopped around to rival clubs. Like his brothers Sam and George, Thomas Burgess carries the ball strongly and would provide the Warriors some go-forward. His hands have been a bit of an issue this year though. The Rabbitohs would need to swallow a large portion of his contract and other Australian clubs would seem a more likely fit.

Greg Eastwood (little chance)
The veteran Kiwi test forward would have been an excellent addition to the Warriors roster for next season but he appears set to ink a two-year extension with the Bulldogs. Eastwood can play in the middle and on the edge and has been a consistent performer since breaking into first grade with the Broncos in 2005. The Bulldogs have already re-signed David Klemmer and Moses Mbye and are closing in on re-signing rep back-rower Josh Jackson. There is a chance the deal could fall through if things get tight around the salary cap and the Warriors would be in a prime position to pounce.

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Robbie Farah (no chance)
The NSW State of Origin hooker's time at the Wests Tigers is almost certain to come to an end at the conclusion of this season. His form has waned this season and the young Tigers seem better without him in the starting side. The Warriors have Kiwi test rake Issac Luke starting and have depth in-house through Jazz Tevaga and Nathaniel Roache. Farah isn't an option for the Warriors.

Aiden Guerra (fair chance)
The Roosters and Queensland back rower has been a consistent performer over the past few seasons but has struggled for club form with the out of sorts Roosters this season. There is talk in Sydney that Guerra is a chance of being shopped this off-season despite still being under contract. He wouldn't come cheap and would join an already strong Warriors back row but his Origin experience and professionalism would be appealing.

Ben Hannant (little chance)
The veteran prop is in the twilight of his career but is in search of a new deal for 2017. He would bring significant experience and a good work ethic to the Warriors but the need for an ageing prop on what would be a short-term deal would have to come as a major bargain for the club to be tempted. Hannant has a large family and left Sydney a few years back because the family missed Queensland. A move across the Tasman hardly seems appealing.

Josh Hoffman (good chance)
Hoffman is still contracted to the Titans for 2017 but the word is he has been told he's free to negotiate with rival clubs. The Gold Coast has a number of outside backs on their books and will need to let some go before next season. Hoffman can play centre, wing or fullback and has played test football for New Zealand. He wouldn't cost the earth and has been in good form for the Titans this year. A definite chance.

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Josh Jackson (little chance)
Jackson was one of the standout players for NSW in their State of Origin series loss to Queensland. He is one of the premier second rowers in the NRL but is close to re-signing with the Bulldogs. The Warriors already have a couple of players in his ilk in Simon Mannering and skipper Ryan Hoffman. While Jackson is a tremendous player he wouldn't be a good fit for the Warriors.

Benji Marshall (no chance)
The former Golden Boot winner is struggling with the Dragons and the club has backed out of contract extension talks. The Warriors lack experience in the halves outside of Shaun Johnson. If Marshall was willing to take a significant pay cut to play first grade there could be a fit but the Warriors are believed to be prepared to go with youngsters Tui Lolohea, Ata Hingano and Mason Lino.

David Mead (fair chance)
Mead is looking more likely to leave the Titans at the season's end and has attracted interest from a number of clubs. Capable of playing in the centres, on the wing or at fullback he is a versatile player and has a knack of scoring tries - leading the all-time Titans tally. He wants to play fullback and wouldn't be able to do that in Auckland however. The Papua New Guinea international is more likely to head to Sydney but is a rough chance.

Sam Moa (good chance)
The Kiwi test prop is off-contract at the Roosters and has been told he needs to lift his performances if he wants to stay at Bondi Junction next season. The Warriors could do with some extra beef up front and his first three seasons at the Roosters yielded excellent results. Turning 30 this week, Moa still has a good two or three seasons in him - props often don't fully mature until the back end of their careers. Moa would be a good fit at the Warriors.

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Jack Reed (fair chance)
Reed is currently injured with an ongoing shoulder complaint and is rumoured to be departing the Broncos at the end of the season despite still being under contract. The English international has been regarded as one of the best defensive centres in the NRL in recent seasons and would be a good fit in a Warriors back line that has had its defensive issues. A release is yet to be confirmed and there would be other clubs sniffing around while doubt remains over the seriousness of his injury but it would be worth the Warriors kicking the tyres on him.

Sam Tagataese (fair chance)
The Wellington-born prop has enjoyed a couple of superb years with the Sharks and would be a handy addition to the Warriors pack should he be signed. The Sharks would like to keep him and may be able to offer him a new deal now that veteran hooker Michael Ennis has decided to retire at the end of the season. With captain Paul Gallen and fellow veteran Luke Lewis signing new deals recently though there is a chance Tagataese could be squeezed out.

Paul Vaughan (little chance)
The Raiders front rower isn't off contract but has been struggling to make the top 17 for the red-hot Green Machine the past few weeks. It wasn't long ago that Vaughan was being talked about as a potential bolter for State of Origin selection but the Raiders have great forward depth and he's found himself on the outer. There is no suggestion the Raiders have allowed him to talk to rival clubs but if he were the Warriors could do a lot worse than a mobile big man.

Sam Williams (no chance)
Williams played well for the Raiders last season and filled in admirably at times this year when regular starters Aiden Sezer and Blake Austin have been out. He is off contract with the Raiders at the end of the year and will be a handy pick-up for a side looking for a value-for-money playmaker. He kicks well and can direct play well without setting the world on fire and would be a good foil for someone like Shaun Johnson. The Warriors aren't interested in adding any more halves however and will go with their own youngsters Lolohea, Hingano and Lino instead.

Tony Williams (fair chance)
T-Rex has had an up and down time of things at the Bulldogs. He signed to a big contract (at the time) when making the move from Manly but has failed to live up to the deal until just recently. The powerful back rower has been superb for the Bulldogs in recent weeks, making a real impact coming off the bench. He will struggle to stay with the Bulldogs, who are finalizing deals with Jackson and Eastwood and also have bench forward Tim Browne off contract. The Warriors are missing an attacking back rower and might have some interest there. They might find competition for his signature however and would have to pay more than Sydney rivals no doubt.

Bargain Buy
The Warriors will need to round out their playing roster with some cost-effective players. One guy worth looking at is Panthers utility back Will Smith. Capable of playing at fullback or in the halves, Smith is only looking at a deal in the vicinity of $100,000 and would be provide significant cover across the board. He is small in stature and clearly has some shortcomings but he has enormous upside as well. With that sort of a price tag there is a lot of upside and very little downside.

- NZ Herald

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