The Warriors are confident they can keep their "big four" together next year - even though it will bring challenges under the salary cap.

Their all-international spine of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke is rare in the history of the NRL.

It's unusual to have all four marquee spine players at a club.

That can be a headache for the club's accountants, and recruitment manager Tony Iro, who needs to fit the top 30 players under the cap.


The 2018 salary cap is still being negotiated between the NRL and the Rugby League Players' Association, and the NRL's latest offer was A$8.84m ($9.56m). This year's cap is A$7m ($7.57m).

By his standards, Foran is on a cut-price deal at Mt Smart this year. Due to his personal issues, and injury concerns, his contract at the Warriors doesn't begin to resemble his previous deal at the Eels, which was worth an estimated A$4.8m ($5.2m) over four year, when it was signed in 2015.

Foran still has a lot to prove, on and off the field, but if he builds on the promising start against the Titans last week his value on the open market will soar, given his pedigree, and the Warriors will need to devote a much bigger chunk of their budget to the 26-year-old.

Johnson is the club's highest earner and his next contract, which is still in negotiation, should take him close to being the first $1 million a year player at Mt Smart, depending on it's length and how it is structured.

Captain Tuivasa-Sheck is among the top earners at the club, having signed a massive three year deal when he left the Roosters at the end of the 2015 season.

And Luke is also near the top of the pecking order at the club, with more than a decade in the NRL and 41 tests with the Kiwis.

The closest to the Warriors' all-star spine in recent times was probably the Roosters between 2012 and 2014. During that time they had Anthony Minichello, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce and Jake Friend, and that quartet helped them to the 2013 Premiership. However, Friend wasn't a representative player and wouldn't command the same type of deal as Luke, and Maloney was squeezed out, leaving for Cronulla.

The Storm have also have star spines down the years, with the 2006 version (Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith) probably the standout, although Cronk wasn't in the representative frame at that time.


Before that you have to go back to the Broncos and Raiders all-star team of the 1990s.

"We have one of the more illustrious ones now but other clubs have managed to do it," said recruitment manager Tony Iro.

"But in terms of the cap it's not really a big four, it's probably a big 10 to be fair. Then in the rest of your squad you have to find value. There is always pressure but in terms of the question can we fit them all in next year? I'm telling you that we can."