Taumalolo welcome at Warriors: Vatuvei
As rumours swirl around the future of Kiwi international Jason Taumalolo, the Warriors have made it clear the boom back-rower would be welcome across the Tasman from next year and beyond.
As reported by Australian media this morning, the New Zealand club is believed to have tabled a two-year deal worth $1 million a season for the off-contract Cowboy.
Veteran winger Manu Vatuvei played alongside Taumalolo for the Kiwis in last year's Four Nations campaign, and spent a week with the powerhouse forward as part of the NRL All Stars recently.
While remaining coy on any details, Vatuvei couldn't hide his enthusiasm at the possibility of teaming up with Taumalolo at club level in the future.
"Definitely man [I would like to play with him], he is the type of player we want in the team, but a lot of clubs will be chasing him," Vatuvei told NRL.com.
"If we are the lucky club who gets him then it will be awesome for us. He is a real talented player and it would be great to have him in our side."
Head coach Andrew McFadden was a no-show at the club's weekly media session in Auckland on Wednesday, further adding to speculation that Warriors officials are on their way to pitch a proposal directly to the 21-year-old.
In McFadden's absence assistant coach Andrew Webster spoke to media, endorsing Taumalolo's ability both on and off the field.
"He is an outstanding player, you would be crazy if you didn't want a player like that," said Webster, who coached Taumalolo with the Tongan national team at the 2013 World Cup.
"But where we are along the line with that I am not sure, that's for the powers that be.
"But from my point of view I know he is a terrific player, I know him personally and he is a nice guy.
"I had him in the Tongan camp two years ago when I was assistant coach, he was there then and is a terrific guy and a true professional.
"He was just one of those guys you wanted to have in your squad and the boys certainly love paying with him, that's for sure.
"Where we are and if he's coming here… your guess is as good as mine.
"We have an 80-minute back row here, we are more than happy with what we have got, [that is] not to say that we wouldn't be keen on him."
A move back to Auckland is understood to hold plenty of appeal to Taumalolo, who was born and raised in the city's southern suburbs, playing his junior football with the Otahuhu Leopards before moving across to the join the Cowboys' system at age 13.
The Warriors have cash to spend and now appear out of the race for Kiwi standoff Kieran Foran and NSW Origin forward Trent Merrin, but will face huge competition for Taumalolo's signature with the Sharks, Roosters, Sea Eagles, Dragons and Eels among the other NRL clubs to lodge interest.
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