Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: Warriors to sign Titans backrower

Leivaha Pulu is likely to be playing with, rather than against, Shaun Johnson at the Warriors next season. Photo / Photosport
Leivaha Pulu is likely to be playing with, rather than against, Shaun Johnson at the Warriors next season. Photo / Photosport

The Warriors are close to confirming their second recruit for the 2018 season.

After signing Tohu Harris in February, the Warriors are set to agree terms with Gold Coast back-rower Leivaha Pulu.

The powerful forward has been monitored by several Sydney clubs and the Titans are also believed to be keen to hold on to the 27-year-old, after his impressive displays this season.

But the Warriors are favourites for his signature, and the deal is likely to be wrapped up within the next week.

He's not a big name but it will be a boost to the club - after the loss of Ben Matulino and the probable exit of Kieran Foran - and Pulu will be a welcome addition to the Warriors pack. He has a physical presence that not many forwards at the Auckland club can match.

Pulu is a late bloomer. He came through the Tigers farm system - a graduate of Keebra Park High School on the Gold Coast - but couldn't crack first grade at the Sydney club.

After a few years in the wilderness, including an off-season in France, he joined the Wyong Roos. He spent three seasons at the New South Wales Central Coast club, culminating in a run to the 2015 NSW Cup final.

Those displays were enough to persuade the Titans to take a chance on the Auckland-born Pulu, and he was signed to a basic contract ahead of the 2016 season.

Pulu earned a spot in the round one clash against the Knights and has never looked back. He played 23 matches last year.

With the benefit of just his second full NRL pre-season, Pulu has gone to another level in 2017. He has averaged 51 minutes a match (up from 37 minutes last year) and crossed for two tries in the Titans's 16-12 victory over the Sharks last week.

Pulu and his wife were born in New Zealand (he crossed the Tasman when he was 16) and being closer to family is a big appeal of linking with the Warriors.

The Marist junior also harbours hopes of making a run for the Kiwis World Cup squad at the end of this year, although the Tongan side is probably a more realistic option at this stage.

While Pulu has played only 31 NRL games, his journey and life experience have given him a maturity not always evident in players who have made a similar number of appearances, as well as a genuine hunger to succeed.

- NZ Herald

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