Addin Fonua-Blake’s pending exit from the Warriors has caused a stir within the NRL landscape with the Warriors identifying a number of targets, including Viliame Kikau, to replace the forward. Fonua-Blake is set to leave the Warriors at the end of 2024 after asking the club for a release from his contract two years early.
The news has sent shockwaves through the NRL with the Wests Tigers and the Bulldogs interested in the Warriors star's class. Phil Gould met with Fonua-Blake after the development, while the Tigers appear frontrunners to secure him with room in the salary cap.
The Warriors know Fonua-Blake will be leaving in 2024 and are looking at immediate replacements with a potential trade deal. If Fonua-Blake were to become a Bulldogs, The Daily Telegraph reports the Warriors are interested in Kikau’s signature.
However, this appears unlikely with Kikau just one year into a four-year deal with the Bulldogs as the club continues its rebuild under Gould and coach Cameron Ciraldo. The Tigers are another club interested in Fonua-Blake.
And the Warriors could seek a trade for Isaiah Papali’i or Stefano Utoikamanu as a result. Although Utoikamanu is expecting his second child with his partner and may be reluctant to move out of Sydney with a young family. Papali’i played 63 games for the Warriors, before making the switch to the Eels in 2021. He since joined the Tigers in 2023 having played 23 games.
Another club vying for Fonua-Blake’s signature is the Dragons who are looking for a forward to add to their squad. New coach Shane Flanagan appears interested in the Tongan international’s class, but it could come at a huge price. The Warriors could seek the signature of Haydn Su’A if Fonua-Blake links forces with Flanagan.
While the three previous clubs are the favourites to sign Fonua-Blake, the Sharks entered the race when freeing up salary cap space having offloaded Connor Tracey and Matt Moylan in the off-season. Regardless, Fonua-Blake is seeking $1.2 million a season for his signature.
Phil Gould chases Addin Fonua-Blake's signature
Fonua-Blake's exit will come as a huge loss to the Warriors with the Tongan star arguably their best forward in 2023. And Gould has recognised his impact and was pictured in a meeting with the 28-year-old.
While Tohu Harris has been locked in, and Kurt Capewell could be joining the Warriors, the club is dealing with the prospect of Fonua-Blake leaving at the end of 2024. Fonua-Blake had originally requested an immediate release from the Warriors to return to Sydney for family reasons but has since agreed to finish the 2024 NRL season with the club before moving on.
The Wests Tigers are reportedly favourites to get Fonua-Blake. However, Bulldogs supremo Gould met with the forward as it appears the club are also entering the race. And recently Gould voiced his interest in the star, despite telling SEN he won't come cheap. "Yeah Addin's a quality player, I have a lot of time for Addin," Gould said. "I spent a little bit of time at the Warriors during COVID as a consultant and got to see Addin first-hand, he's a quality player.
"He's not cheap though and I'd imagine there'd be a lot of interest in Addin. He's got to return home to Australia for family reasons which he's working through with the Warriors ... there'll be a lot of people lining up for his signature that's for sure."
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