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

NRL: Jacob Lillyman waits on new Warriors deal

Warriors Jacob Lillyman in action during round one of the 2017 season. Photo / Greg Bowker
Warriors Jacob Lillyman in action during round one of the 2017 season. Photo / Greg Bowker

Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman is in no hurry to make a decision on his future - though the clock is ticking on a new deal.

The 33-year-old is off contract at the end of this season, one of many at the Auckland club uncertain about their playing destinations in 2018.

Lillyman is a genuine conundrum. He has given the club great service across 177 games, but his advanced age will count against him.

He's solid - rather than spectacular - though remains one of the most dependable front rowers at the club.

That's credit to the durable Queenslander, but also symptomatic of the Warriors' situation.

The likes of Sam Lisone (50 NRL games), Albert Vete (39) and Charlie Gubb (36) should have claimed his spot by now, but they haven't found the required consistency.

With Ben Matulino departing, the club might be tempted to offer Lillyman a new contract , given he is a known quantity.

The State of Origin representative is often criticized for his lack of aggression and line-bending ability, but Lillyman performs an important function.

Across nine seasons at Mt Smart he averages almost 100 running metres, 11 carries and 21 tackles a match.

However Lillyman, who made his NRL debut (for the Cowboys) in 2003, is pragmatic about the future.

"I'm not putting pressure on anyone," said Lillyman. "The club is making their own decision and that's fine. I'll just wait and see. After another couple of games I'll give my manager a ring. It's an old cliché but these things tend to take care of themselves...so we will see what happens."

Lillyman wants to play at least one more NRL season. Aside from a return to Queensland, he's also open to a stay in Sydney if a Warriors offer doesn't materialize.

"I'm not too fussed about where I end up," said Lillyman. "I've loved it here so if the opportunity comes up to stay then that would be great. But I'm keeping an open mind on things."

As a senior player Lillyman is often put up in difficult situations, and he was one of only three players to front the media on Tuesday, in the wake of the awful defeat at Penrith.

"It was a tough video session but we didn't want to gloss over it," said Lillyman. "We need to look at it as a kick up the arse. There are a lot of disappointed boys and the big thing is the response...we need to let that drag us into a good performance against the Dragons on Friday."

Lillyman also hopes that the disenchanted jersey-burning supporters come to regret their actions.

In the wake of Saturday's loss, two Warriors fans set their jerseys alight as an expression of their frustration.
"They paid their money for them and they can do what they want," said Lillyman. "That's totally up to them. It was tough for us but we know how tough it would have been for the fans watching that."

However, Lillyman wonders how they might feel if the Warriors can regain some momentum in their current campaign.

"If things do come right and we end up making a go of this season that's probably 180 bucks down the drain for them," said Lillyman. "So will have to wait and see."

- NZ Herald

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