The Tainui majority owners of the Auckland Warriors have told management to prepare a report on all coaching options, including hiring an off-contract Australian.

The move does not rule out incumbent coach Mark Graham - whose contract expires at the end of the season - remaining in the position.

Rather, Tainui have said they want to consider all options, including accepting Graham's tendered resignation, before deciding on an appointment for 2001.

Among those to be asked if they are interested will be former Australia and Manly mentor Bob Fulton, David Waite, who has been released from the joint coaching position at the Dragons, Warren Ryan, who finishes at Newcastle at the end of the season, and Phil Gould, who retired from the Roosters last year.

Also in the frame is Matt Elliot, at Bradford, who has indicated he wants to leave.

New Zealanders with international experience will also be approached, including Kiwi selector and nines coach Graeme Norton, Residents XIII and Canterbury coach Gerard Stokes, and Warriors assistant coach Mike McClennan, who had success at St Helens.

Graham strung a millstone around his neck when he said early this year that he would resign if the team did not make the playoffs. They have not and he has offered to go, so Tainui could part company with him at no cost.

The board expects to receive the management report on all coaches' willingness to take on the Warriors and their asking price, ability and suitability for the job within three weeks and to make a decision on the 2001 coach by the end of round play, on July 30.

"There's no hit-list," chief executive Trevor McKewen said. Nor was it a certainty that Graham would go.

The club looks increasingly likely to lose centres Nigel Vagana and Shontayne Hape, with both facing much increased financial opportunities in England.

Vagana has a firm offer from the Canterbury Bulldogs, but it is one the Warriors feel they can outweigh with other factors. However, approaches from Warrington, Hull and other Super League clubs are likely to be in a higher bracket.

In Hape's case, recommendation from the Paul brothers, who also come from the Te Atatu club, have swayed Bradford to put a deal worth $175,000 in front of him.

The Warriors expect to meet Vagana's agent this weekend to make him a final offer, while Hape is expecting a last bid from Bradford before laying his cards on the table.

The club will meet captain John Simon's agent next week. He is also believed to have been offered a wheelbarrow of cash at London.

Already a team of off-contract stars have signed for the Super League next season, rather than taking salary cap-enforced pay cuts. The latest to sign is Kiwi fullback Richie Barnett, who is off to the Richard Branson-backed London Broncos.

Others include David Fairleigh, Peter Shiels and Andrew Johns (the first two from Newcastle to St Helens and Johns to Wigan), Adrian Lam (Sydney City to Wigan), David Furner (Canberra to Wigan), Tonie Carroll (Brisbane to Leeds), Jason Hetherington (Canterbury to London) and Tony Martin (Storm to London).