Warriors centre battle heats up
If you wear the number three or four on your back and play for the Warriors then chances are you are feeling the pressure right now, which coach Andrew McFadden couldn't be happier about.
The signing of centres Matt Allwood from the Raiders, Api Pewhairangi from the Eels and this week former Shark Jonathan Wright means the Warriors have gained some much needed depth in a position which was often their downfall in 2014.
"There is going to be pretty fierce competition for those spots and we will see who takes it," McFadden said.
"Jonathan certainly rounds our squad out a little bit, he gives us some good competition there and some experience.
"We have some very good quality young outside backs and having that experience around obviously helps.
"We are very happy [with our recruitment], I wouldn't imagine we are going to be doing much more recruitment now. We are really focussing on 2016."
Since taking over as head coach from Matt Elliott in Round 6 this year, McFadden has made no secret of his concerns around the club's lack of depth at centre.
Only two games into his tenure he dropped Konrad Hurrell, believing he needed to work on his defence, while former Maroons centre Dane Nielsen was also demoted to the NSW Cup near the back end of the year.
Nielsen has since been released to join the Dragons.
But McFadden confirmed that right now incumbents Ngani Laumape and Hurrell remain the favourites for the starting centre spots in 2015.
"They obviously have the inside running at the moment because they have the runs on the board, but we will see how their preparation goes," McFadden said.
"Certainly past performances have a big impact on selection, but that only goes so far and it's really about doing the job from week-to-week."
Hurrell, who is still in a cast following surgery on his right wrist, said the new arrivals could be a positive for him, making sure he stays on his toes throughout the season.
"You always have to fight for your position every year and it doesn't get any easier with a few new signings who are centres coming into the team," Hurrell said.
"I have to prove myself to be the number one centre in this team and hopefully I will start.
"It is frustrating with the injury, but no excuses for next year and hopefully I can make a strong start unlike this year (when he returned from the off-season 10 kilograms overweight).
"It has been tough under 'Cappy' (McFadden) but that's for the good of the team.
"Under Cappy you can't hide, so I need to do the hard yards and hopefully we will be all good."
Meanwhile Wright, who signed a one-year deal with the club on Tuesday, wasted no time in adjusting to his new home at Mt Smart Stadium, joining the side for training less than a day after arriving in Auckland.
The 27-year-old, who has had stints with the Eels, Bulldogs and most recently Sharks, has racked up 91 first-grade games since his debut in 2009 and said coming to New Zealand was a chance to rejuvenate his career.
"I was stuck in limbo for a few months, not sure what I wanted to do, and the Warriors approached me," Wright said.
"There were a few opportunities but I did what was best for me and the family. My missus is a Kiwi, she has been in Australia for five years and now we are back across here with the kids.
"It's another opportunity with a great team and a professional club.
"I have played a bit of centre and a bit of wing, it just depends on where Cappy thinks I will fit into the side.
"I am happy to earn my right into the side and see how I go."