Warriors recruitment manager Peter O'Sullivan has revealed his signing priorities over the next 12 months, and it's mostly about size.
There won't be any early Christmas presents for Warriors fans, as the final spot in their 2020 roster isn't likely to be filled in the next few weeks, but O'Sullivan is confident his patient strategy will eventually reap rewards.
The Warriors pack is mid-range across the NRL in terms of physical presence, and struggled to hold their own at times last season. Height and weight is not the be-all and end-all, and the Warriors have a mobile forward unit, but they lack the bulk of years gone by, and the top six clubs last season all had physical enforcers that could smash over the advantage line on a regular basis.
"We are still not small, we are just not as big as some packs," O'Sullivan told the Herald. "It's something we are aware of but not a major concern. I'd dearly like another bigger body on the edge and we are hopeful that the cards will fall our way at some stage."
"I could've signed three or four players in the last few months. They would have helped our squad a little bit but because we have only got one spot left in our 30, I didn't want to do that unless we were getting a player that helped our squad a lot.
With the recent signing of hooker Wayde Egan from Penrith, O'Sullivan has narrowed his priorities over the next year.
"Priority wise the hooker was number one, the big edge back rower number two and probably a centre back rower would have been the third option which I really wanted to do. Next priority would be a big middle."
The Auckland club will juggle three hookers next season. It's far from ideal in terms of salary cap space, but an unfortunate reality with the questions over Nathaniel Roache's future, given his awful injury run, while Karl Lawton is coming back from another shoulder reconstruction.
It's meant the club have one spot left in their 2020 squad, unless there is a surprise departure, and O'Sullivan wants to land the jackpot.
"We need to be patient and wait for the right one," said O'Sullivan, who indicated there aren't really any off contract options. "It will be someone squeezed out somewhere. That's what happens, someone moves that triggers three or four moves someone else. But you can't chase those people because it is against the rules."
O'Sullivan has great hopes for some of young middle forwards coming through at the club and says he is content with the current backline resources.
But 2020 will be a pivotal year for everyone associated with the Auckland club, including O'Sullivan who arrived with a big reputation for talent spotting. There's likely to be plenty of movement at the end of next year, with multiple Warriors off contract, so his abilities will be under the microscope, though O'Sullivan is adamant he's not feeling the pressure.
"Not at all," said O'Sullivan. "We will have a better squad in 2021 than 2020, and 2022 than 2021. So there is no pressure. I know where we are heading. Mark [Robinson), Cameron [George], the coaches know where we have heading. And we've got plenty of talent. We are not worrying about what we haven't got, we are working with what we have got."