2021 Warriors Recruitment DISCUSSION
NRL: Re-signing Tohu Harris top priority for Warriors as other clubs can start negotiations
If there’s one player coming off contract next year that the Warriors must re-sign, it’s Tohu Harris.
The Warriors have nine players in the last year of their current deals in 2021 and it’s Harris who tops that list.
An important deadline past at the weekend, with players not contracted beyond next season able to negotiate with other clubs after November 1.
Every NRL would be keen to have a player the quality of Harris on their books and the 28-year-old will be key to the Warriors’ future success.
Stuff understands talks have started between Harris and the club, but because of the uncertainty due the Covid-19 pandemic the forward isn’t in a rush to finalise a deal.
The Warriors are already planning to spend some, if not all of next season based in Australia and at this stage no one can guarantee that they’ll have to do the same again in 2022.
With a young family, Harris, who is anticipated to win the Simon Mannering Medal on Wednesday, understandably would like to know how things pan out before locking in his future and while rival NRL clubs can start talking to him, the Warriors will no doubt do everything they can to retain him.
On Sunday, the Sun Herald reported that the Warriors are planning to make a play for Kiwi international Jahrome Hughes, who’s current contract comes to an end at the end of 2021.
Hughes was a revelation switching from fullback to halfback at the Storm this year and his manager, Chris Orr has made it clear that he wants to test the market.
The Sunday Telegraph has reported that Hughes is being shopped throughout the NRL, with Orr wanting to double his current salary of $350,000 a season.
Orr appears to be using the media to bump up the value of the 26-year-old Wellingtonian, but the Warriors would only chase Hughes if they lost Kodi Nikorima.
Nikorima has an option in his favour for the 2022 season and if he decides to leave, then Hughes is an obvious target.
Hughes would be a good fit at the Warriors. Like Nikorima, he’s a right-sided player, so a ready made replacement, he is a Kiwi, so would enjoy being back in New Zealand and he has a style of play that would fit well with Harris-Tavita.
However, the Warriors are a long way off making an offer to Hughes and there wouldn’t be one coming until it became evident that Nikorima wanted out at the end of next season.
The other Warriors players coming off contract at the end of 2021 are Bunty Afoa, Leeson Ah Mau, Josh Curran, Jackson Frei, Karl Lawton, Hayze Perham, Adam Pompey and Jazz Tevaga.
The Warriors told Afoa they’d give him a release at the end of this season, which he turned down, so it’s unlikely he’ll be offered a new contract.
The Warriors will want to see how the 30-year-old Ah Mau plays after missing most of this season because of a ruptured pectoral muscle.
Curran saw just 60 minutes of action this, so like Frei will have a lot to prove next year.
Pompey and Perham will find it harder to get game time next season when Ken Maumalo and David Fusitua are back in the team and Euan Aitken is at the club.
Lawton established himself as the Warriors’ first choice hooker last season, but it’s unknown whether new coach Nathan Brown will prefer Wayde Egan.
As for Tevaga, he was one of the Warriors’ most improved players in 2020, but Harris could revert back to lock next year, taking his starting spot.
So for all but Harris, decision on offering new contracts won’t be happening for a while yet, while the club continues to look for another half for the 2021 squad.
Jayden Nikorima, Kodi’s younger brother who played for the Roosters in 2016, is on a train and trial deal with the Warriors, so is a way off being part of the Warriors squad just yet.
He hasn’t played top level footy for four years, but the club believe he’s worth taking a look at.
He has made the trip back to New Zealand, is going through his 14 days in managed isolation and will be out in time for preseason training.
However, another option could be that Warriors sign Sean O’Sullivan, who has previously played for the Roosters and Broncos.
AT A GLANCE
Warriors players coming off contract at the end of 2021
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