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Emotional Maumalo straight in for Tigers as Dogs hold key to DWZ shift

Ken Maumalo shed tears for the Warriors in his farewell game on Sunday and will be available for the Tigers on Tuesday, as Canterbury hold the key to whether Dallin Watene-Zelezniak replaces his Kiwi Test teammate under Nathan Brown.

Watene-Zelezniak was withdrawn from the Bulldogs clash with St George Illawarra on Monday due to a foot injury according to club officials.

Whether he turns out again in blue and white is unclear given Maumalo's Tigers move has prompted the Warriors' interest in an immediate club switch.

Any shift is contingent on how much Canterbury are willing to chip in for Watene-Zelezniak's $800,000-plus salary for this season and next.

The Bulldogs take on Parramatta on Saturday before a competition-wide break for Origin II, setting up a potential window for the move before round 16.

The Tigers had been in talks with Watene-Zelezniak's management as well around picking up the final 18 months of his Canterbury deal, before those stalled negotiations saw them swoop quickly on Maumalo.

Maumalo finishes his time at the Warriors with a hat-trick

The 26-year-old had only been effectively on the market for a few days before the Tigers nutted out a deal until the end of 2023.

Tigers coach Michael Maguire said Maumalo will be considered for a club debut against the Storm in round 15, dubbing his nine New Zealand Tests and 2019 Dally M winger of the year status as the exact calibre of recruit he is chasing.

"I've spent a bit of time with Kenny, I've toured with him [as New Zealand coach]," Maguire said after the Tigers 40-12 loss to Parramatta.

"He is a real pro with how he goes about things. You can see the quality of what he can bring to a team size-wise, and he can score tries.

"He does what a winger is meant to do. He can come up with some big plays and the sorts of things I have been able to experience at Test level.

"That's the style or type of player we want. We want to get Origin and Test match players to the Wests Tigers."

The Tigers have one roster spot available after Maumalo's signing, and Maguire said he was comfortable with him playing one last game for the Warriors despite his mid-season move being announced on Saturday.

The Warriors spate of backline injuries – exacerbated by Rocco Berry going down in the captains' run – saw Maumalo called in for a swansong against the Storm.

He finished with a hat-trick and emotional farewell to the only NRL club he has known, shedding tears at Central Coast Stadium after full-time.

Match Highlights: Warriors v Storm

"It’s pretty emotional and it’s hard to put it into words," Maumalo told SkyTV after full-time. "This club has been a massive part of my life.

"I was there as soon as I was 16 years old and I’m 26 now. Spending 10 years at the club is massive for me and my family.

"If anyone was to spend 10 years at a club and play the last game, they’d be the same as me. A bit emotional.

"I’m going to miss these boys, they mean a lot to me, I’m happy I’m able to carry these relationships on for the rest of my life."

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