The Warriors have confirmed their interest in Kiwis and Canterbury Bulldogs outside back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, following the release of Ken Maumalo.
The Mount Smart club is short on wingers after Maumalo was granted an immediate release on Saturday. He was confirmed as a new singing for the Wests Tigers on the same day, and is locked down until the end of the 2023 NRL season with the Sydney-based club.
Following his side's 42-16 drubbing at the hands of the Melbourne Storm on the Central Coast, in which Maumalo had an emotional send-off with a hat-trick, Warriors coach Nathan Brown confirmed they were looking at making a play for the former Kiwis skipper.
"Once things unfolded with Ken, we certainly put our feelers out there. We've got a fair list of backs that aren't playing at the moment; we've got a few back next week which is great, but [we're] certainly looking at players and his name was thrown up."
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Despite his youthful age of 25, Watene-Zelezniak has been around the blocks for some time, making his NRL debut back in 2014 with the Penrith Panthers. He spent five and a half seasons with the club, before making a midseason switch to the Bulldogs in 2019.
He has played 143 NRL games, scoring 49 tries, and also has 12 test caps for New Zealand with five as captain.
Should the Warriors manage to pry Watene-Zelesniak away from the Bulldogs, he would patch up an area of the roster in desperate need of attention. Outside backs Peta Hiku, David Fusitu'a and Adam Pompey were all absent during the side's match against the Storm, while Rocco Berry was ruled out before kick-off and has a fresh question mark plastered over his health.
Pompey is set to return next week after serving a one-game suspension.
"[Berry] pulled up a bit lame after captain's run – so Ken wasn't going to play, and then obviously with the injury it got him a game and obviously held himself quite well and did a good job. He's a good fella Kenny," said Brown.
Maumalo's deal with the Tigers was signed the same day he was released from the Warriors, and he is expected to link up with his new club early this week.
"He and his manager have agreed to a long-term deal at the Tigers and I would imagine that would all sort itself out in the next couple of days. How quickly I don't know but I'd be surprised if Kenny's not at the Tigers in a few days," Brown said.