SYDNEY - Kiwis league centre Paul Whatuira is mulling over a switch to Super 14 rugby with the Waratahs next year.
The Wellingtonian, who will play for Wests Tigers against the Warriors in the National Rugby League (NRL) match in Auckland on Sunday, admitted he was weighing up several options as he comes off contract with the Tigers at season's end.
He confirmed he met with Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie last week and was awaiting a formal offer.
"It's just talk at the moment. I caught up with the Waratahs coach and they seem fairly interested -- I guess I'll hear from them soon," he said.
"Ewen's a good coach, he's got a great knowledge of rugby and he could definitely teach me a lot.
"But I just want to concentrate on playing for the Tigers at the moment."
Whatuira, 25, counts All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu among his close friends, both hailing from the league stronghold of Wainuiomata in Wellington.
He played rugby on Saturday and league on Sunday as a schoolboy before getting his big break with the Warriors as an 18-year-old in 2000.
"I grew up playing rugby and I still follow the game. I still keep in touch with Piri and I'm a bit of a Hurricanes fan."
But Whatuira said there hadn't been any interest from New Zealand Super 14 franchises and said he was enjoying life in Sydney for the time being.
He was also awaiting a counter offer from the Tigers who he joined in 2005, the year they won the NRL title.
Whatuira has played 10 tests for the Kiwis and was named in coach Brian McClennan's squad for the Anzac test in April, but narrowly missed the playing 17.
"Obviously I was disappointed to miss out. I'd had a calf strain and only played two NRL games, so (McClennan) didn't think I was quite ready for the test."
His Tigers also lost their first four NRL matches this year and things looked bleak.
But they've since embarked on a four-match winning streak to race up the points table, including an upset of competition favourites Melbourne, and a win over St George Illawarra last week.
That was their first match since Kiwis star Benji Marshall underwent shoulder surgery which will sideline him for 2-3 months, but it didn't seem to halt their momentum.
"We were really concerned about Benji but we've got that confidence now to do the job without him," Whatuira said.
The Warriors meanwhile are in a mini slump, having lost to the Sharks at home and Newcastle away in consecutive weeks to drift out of the top-four.
Whatuira admitted he "didn't quite know" how the Warriors lost 18-24 to the Knights after leading 18-6 with 15 minutes to go.
The Warriors welcome back fullback Wade McKinnon, centre Tony Martin and halfback/five-eighth Michael Witt from suspension, and despite the absence of captain Steve Price on State of Origin duty, Whatuira acknowledged how tough it was to beat them in Auckland.
"They've got a few key players back and last week's performance will make them even more hungry, knowing they had that game and let it slip.
"They'll definitely be well prepared for us."