David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Three clubs chasing Warriors rookie Ata Hingano

Rookie five-eighth Ata Hingano is being chased by rival clubs. Photo / photosport.nz
Rookie five-eighth Ata Hingano is being chased by rival clubs. Photo / photosport.nz

The Warriors have lost Kieran Foran and now face a fight to keep rookie five-eighth Ata Hingano with three rival NRL clubs chasing his signature.

With Foran's end of year transfer to the Canterbury Bulldogs confirmed, the Warriors are weighing up whether to invest in homegrown talent or go to the market and recruit a more experienced playmaker to slot in alongside halfback Shaun Johnson.

Melbourne Storm, the North Queensland Cowboys and the Brisbane Broncos are all interested in luring Hingano across the Tasman.

The 20-year-old is desperate to stay in Auckland but is prepared to move to Australia if he can find a better first grade opportunity.

"If I can I'd love to stay in Auckland," said Hingano. "My life is settled here but if it means moving to get that opportunity to play consistent first grade elsewhere, I'd likely look to move."

Hingano's manager Peter Brown is due to meet with the Warriors today to discuss what role they see him having beyond this season.

Melbourne have been interested in Hingano for several months but find themselves in a similar position to the Warriors, as they consider whether to go for youth or experience in finding a replacement for departing halfback Cooper Cronk.

The Storm also have Junior Kangaroos captain Brodie Croft on their books while another promising playmaker Ryley Jacks is currently off-contract.

"Melbourne and North Queensland have enquired about him and I've had a discussion with the Broncos as well," said Hingano's manager Peter Brown.

"He's still got an option at Melbourne but they've got to weigh up what they want, whether they want someone like him or whether they want an established half straight away."

Hingano has impressed in five NRL matches since debuting against the Cowboys late last season and looked confident through the first three rounds this year before Foran took ownership of the No6 jersey.

The Tongan international is willing to bide his time at the Warriors and play out the rest of this season in the second tier Intrust Super Premiership but is seeking assurances that he will feature regularly in the NRL next year.

The Warriors are undecided about whether to promote Hingano long-term from next season or whether the side would be better served by a more seasoned playmaker.

"There's a few options that we want to consider," said Warriors recruitment and development manager Tony Iro. "Do we go down the path of a rookie and develop them or do we look for someone experienced to take over? That's the conversation we'll be having over the next few days."

Foran has been impressed by his understudy's skill, ability and work ethic and has no doubts Hingano is ready to take the step-up fulltime.

"Ata's an immense talent and I think he's shown that," said Foran. "His skill level is up there with Shaun's and he's got a great ability to play the game and he works really hard on his game.

"So there's no doubt in my mind that if the Warriors look to him to take over that number six role next year he'll be able to fill the job."

- NZ Herald

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