Warriors set strict conditions for star prop's release

Publish Date
Tuesday, 21 November 2023, 9:46AM

By Will Toogood

The New Zealand Warriors are reportedly set to apply strict conditions as to which club star prop Addin Fonua-Blake will join in 2025 following his bombshell contract release request.

The Tongan international sought an immediate release from his deal but a subsequent meeting with the Warriors convinced him to see out the 2024 season.

The release was requested on compassionate grounds. With Fonua-Blake’s parents said to be in poor health, he wishes to return to Sydney to be closer to them.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Warriors will release the 28-year-old only to a Sydney club that has the salary cap space available to sign him - narrowing the potential destinations significantly.

Fonua-Blake’s current deal is reportedly worth nearly $1 million per season and runs until the end of 2026.

As far as clubs that could land the star front-rower go, the Roosters, Panthers and Eels are understood not to be in the race to land his signature - leaving the Dragons and Bulldogs as front runners due to their salary cap space, while the Rabbitohs, Sharks and Tigers would have to make space within their cap.

There are links with the Bulldogs as Canterbury-Bankstown boss Phil Gould worked with Fonua-Blake during his time at the Warriors.

It is the Dragons that are rumoured to have the strongest chance at securing his services as they have comfortable room in their salary cap as well as history on their side, with Fonua-Blake coming through their junior system before signing with the Sea Eagles in 2015.

The Dragons would likely have to let a forward go in return as the Warriors are reportedly seeking a player in exchange for Fonua-Blake.

Across 26 appearances for the Warriors in 2023, Fonua-Blake scored nine tries with 4453 running metres - 1670 of those coming post-contact.

Averaging 14 hit-ups and game and racking up 73 tackle busts across the season his career-best year laid the platform for the Warriors’ run to a preliminary final.

He was signed from the Sea Eagles in 2020 after telling the Manly club he wanted to move away from Sydney, so the turnaround presents a tough picture for the Warriors after just three seasons.

Fonua-Blake also spent the two Covid-disrupted seasons based in Australia with the Warriors before relocating with the rest of the team to Auckland.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission

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