The Warriors are hoping to lure home former club junior and St George Illawarra impact forward Leeson Ah Mau for next season.

The Auckland-born front-rower or lock is off-contract and the Dragons are keen to re-sign him but face serious competition with several other clubs also interested including the Knights, Titans, Panthers and Warriors.

With uncertainty over whether former Warriors captain and 284 game veteran Simon Mannering will play on next year into a 14th season, the club could have a spot in the starting pack they need to fill.

The Herald understands the Warriors also made enquiries earlier this year about signing Canberra, Queensland and former Kangaroos forward Josh Papali'i, but Ah Mau appears to be their priority.


Warriors general manager of football Brian Smith confirmed coach Stephen Kearney had recently spoken to Ah Mau, however the club is yet to table a formal offer.

"We have got some interest but that's about all I can say at this point," said Smith.

"Steve has quite a good relationship with Leeson and we're certainly interested and know that he's off-contract.

"We have had some discussions with his agent but that's where things are at the moment.

"The next week or two will tell us where that's going. We're not in a rush and his agent's been really good to deal with so hopefully we can take our time to work our way through it."

Ah Mau in action for the Warriors under 20s side in 2009. Photo / Photosport.
Ah Mau in action for the Warriors under 20s side in 2009. Photo / Photosport.

The Warriors playing roster for next season is almost full but they have space for one more player, although Ah Mau won't come cheaply.

The Dragons presented a new contract to Ah Mau last month but they may struggle to match rival offers with his asking price believed to be around $500,000 a season.

Talk is strong that Ah Mau would like to be closer to family in Queensland, but he and wife, Rose, also have family here in Auckland, and a return home is not out of the question if the Warriors could make a competitive offer.


The issue of the club's ownership is believed to have delayed negotiations but with that matter now resolved the Warriors are expected to advance talks in the coming days.

The 28-year-old debuted and played two games for the Warriors in 2009 and has played another 160 matches after joining the Dragons in 2012 following two years at the Cowboys.

The Papatoetoe and Otahuhu junior has been outstanding off the bench for the competition leaders this season adding plenty of thrust and aggression as a replacement for starting props Paul Vaughan and James Graham.

"He's really improved in the last couple of seasons," said Smith.

"He's really tightened his game up and he's a player to be reckoned with these days for sure."

Smith confirmed the Warriors are tight on money having recruited heavily last year in signing the likes of Tohu Harris, Adam Blair, Blake Green, Peta Hiku and Gerard Beale.

"That's going to be the very, very limit of activity for us this year because we've got a full book almost already for next year," said Smith.

"I don't see it as a negative. With the strong influx of players that came into the club from last season it's a bit much to expect your salary cap to be free of too much cash.

"It will be steady as she goes in the main for next year."

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