The Dragons have stepped up their efforts to sign Dally M prop of the year Addin Fonua-Blake for 2025, tabling a $3 million offer, according to Fox Sports Australia. Recent reports suggest Fonua-Blake wants a move to a Sydney club to be closer to his parents, who aren't in good health.
The 28-year-old is currently holidaying in Bali after representing Tonga in the Mate Ma’a’s Test match series against England in the UK. Last week the front rower requested an immediate release from the Warriors on compassionate grounds. However, the Warriors are said to have convinced him to remain at the club for at least one more year.
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St George Illawarra are looking to bring more strength into their front row with new coach Shane Flanagan targeting some of the NRL's hottest forwards. Fonua-Blake's Tongan teammates Hame Sele, Moses Suli and Ben Murdoch-Masila, who will all pull on the Red V next year, are said to be trying to convince the Dally M prop of the year to make the switch.
It is understood talks between Fonua-Blake and the Dragons will ramp up when he returns from Bali. It is thought that the Dragons will aim to bring in the New Zealand star for 2024 but will ultimately settle for 2025 if they cannot persuade the Warriors to release him from the final year of his contract.
An official from a Sydney club told Wide World of Sports the Warriors would only consider letting him go this year if they were to receive a like-for-like player in return. "It's no guarantee they will release him," the official reportedly said. "They want an equivalent trade. There are not many options available to them."
When asked about the possibility of bringing Fonua-Blake to the club, Flanagan told AAP: "We'll be monitoring what happens there, that's for sure. We want good players and he fits into that category. Without a doubt we'll look at it because he's got a history with our club."
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Flanagan is on a recruitment drive after a shocking few years for Dragons fans. The Red V have money to spend and several spots available in their top-30 squad this season, with Flanagan hopeful of bringing in a host of top talent, headlined by the Sydney Roosters Joey Manu.
The Dragons are reportedly willing to offer Manu a $5 million deal to jump ship, with Flanagan pitching the prospect of playing fullback to the New Zealand international. Manu has always expressed a desire to play in the No.1 jersey, but has had to bide his time behind James Tedesco.
“From what I see when he plays fullback, his involvement is enormous. I think he could make a real fist of it,” Flanagan said. “I’d love to have him, but I just don’t know if he’s going to move. In the end, it’s not us, it’s not the Roosters, it’s just what Joey wants to do. I know he loves the Roosters, I know Nick (Roosters chairman Nick Politis) loves him. Does he want to leave and have a crack at fullback? He obviously won’t get to play too much there.”
Roosters coach Trent Robinson later said: “The first thing is, the conversation with his manager has been ongoing, we’re pretty comfortable with where they’re at. Joey is a Rooster, I don’t expect him to go anywhere. (Flanagan) is really trying to rebuild the Dragons and that’s really their prerogative. But I feel like they’ve thrown that out to get in touch with (Manu’s) manager. I don’t think those discussions have been had at all.”
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