The NZ Warriors are working hard to secure the majority of their player roster for 2004. With just over a month before anti-tampering restrictions come off on June 30, coach Daniel Anderson said the club had already sealed deals with two players.
And it was negotiating with Logan Swann, Henry Faafili and John Carlaw. "We've executed options on Vince Anderson and Vince Mellars," Anderson said. "Those two boys are definitely with us next season. We are in negotiations with Henry. Logan is an international. He commands a much higher salary. I'm hopeful we can do something with Logan. We have an option on John Carlaw's services for next year, to be executed by June 30."
A number of top-level players from other clubs will be on the market. But Anderson said the Warriors would not be chasing too many players. "We don't need to be that active in the marketplace," he said. "We've got tremendous young talent here. We will be active if we see the need to fill a spot we can't internally. There are 20 players who are contracted here next year or have options on them. We've got to look at the balance of the squad, how much money there is to spend, and what the priority positions are that need to be filled."
"There's a sort of domino effect. We can talk to two or three at once but you can't have negotiations going with six at a time because if they all say yes at the same time then you'll be over the cap. That's why we're dealing with Henry first because we see him being at the club longterm and we'd like him to say. We'll move to Logan and John Carlaw after that."
Included in the list of players off contract are Kiwis centres Nigel Vagana - who has been unable to come to terms with the Bulldogs, and Willie Talau - his centre partner at the Bulldogs, who is rumoured to be heading to England.
"We're not really looking outside," Anderson said. "We really want to get our own house in order before June 30 so the players we want to keep don't go on the open market. We've got a lot of young blokes who are going to require extensions and upgrades of their contracts. They've all played good football in the last 12 months. We're obviously looking at Evarn Tuimavave and trying to do something with him. He's a bright young talent and we want him on an extended deal."