Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
One of the most dominant NRL stories over the past week has been the New Zealand Warriors’ pursuit of Joseph Manu, who they are reportedly looking to bring to the club in 2023 as a five-eighth on a contract worth around $1 million per season.
However, the Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield has recently reported that the Warriors are also in discussions about putting an offer on the table for Parramatta Eels five-eighth Dylan Brown.
New Zealand has tried to sign the 21-year-old once before in 2019 then Warriors coach Nathan Brown tabled him a deal reportedly worth $2.69 million until the end of 2025.
Brown is currently contracted to the Eels until the end of 2022 on a deal believed to be worth $700,000 per season, with an option in his favour for 2023.
The Kiwis International has not had his best season in 2021 but has remained solid in multiple areas, with Brown on track to have his worst season in terms of tries and assists with three and one respectively so far this year, although he has had the best defensive season of his career with 468 tackles made for an efficiency rate of 95.7% to date.
If the Warriors are to pursue Brown it can mean one of five things.
Firstly, it could simply mean that the Warriors believe Brown is a great fit for the club and will now focus on signing him, or secondly, that the club will still prioritise the signing of Manu but have Brown on their list as a backup in case the deal for Manu falls through.
Now for the third option, which would be the best outcome for the Warriors, is that the club will try to sign Dylan Brown as their long-term five-eighth and Joseph Manu as a centre on a smaller deal than the reported $1 million per season, and possibly shift him to fullback throughout his contract, although this would be unlikely as Reece Walsh has been given assurance that he will be the Warriors fullback for years to come.
And the fourth being that the Warriors could be planning to invest heavily in both players and hope that it will be enough to eventually lead them to a premiership, so this would mean they sign Dylan Brown who one would think is set to demand close to the million mark, and Joseph Manu on similar money to play at fullback, which again, is unlikely unless Reece Walsh’s form drops severely over the coming 18 months.
Lastly, there’s been a bit of speculation that the Warriors’ plan is to sign both players and have their spine made up of Reece Walsh at fullback, Joseph Manu at five-eighth, Shaun Johnson at halfback and Dylan Brown at hooker in 2023.
These possibilities leave us with one question in particular, where does Chanel Harris Tevita fit into all of this?
It is possible for him to push Kodi Nikorima out of his role as the Warriors’ bench utility player, but with the 22-year-old’s contract up at the end of 2022, if the club doesn’t have any plans for him going into 2023 he will likely be available to the highest bidder.