Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Marata Niukore had a fantastic season for the Parramatta Eels in 2021, standing out in a great side and finally receiving the praise he most certainly deserves, with his versatility on show as the Niukore played at least three games each at centre, prop and in the second-row.
Overall, the 25-year-old would notch up two tries, two line breaks, two line-break assists, average 100 running metres per game and make 461 tackles for an efficiency rate of 92.6%.
Niukore is off-contract at the end of 2022 and is free to negotiate with rival clubs in a little under a month, as the Eels have a ton of talent without a contract beyond next season that they must scramble to keep at the club.
It seems the Cook Islands International will be departing Parramatta when the 2022 NRL season concludes, as the Mole is reporting that the Warriors are heavily chasing him for 2023 onwards.
MOLEY’s TUESDAY SCOOPS
*Eels in danger of losing gun forward
*Fallen star turns to rival sport to kick-star career
*Rabbitoh rookie on the move
*Young forward makes the gradehttps://t.co/U9hYebg1si pic.twitter.com/Ry2AAMAowG
— The Mole (@9_Moley) October 4, 2021
“The Warriors are leading the race to sign versatile Eels forward Marata Niukore for 2023,” said the Mole via his Tuesday column.
“With 11 players free to talk to rival clubs from November 1, Parra know they can’t keep them all for 2023 – and Niukore is one who looks set to be sacrificed.
“The Eels want to keep Niukore – but have higher priorities like skipper Clint Gutherson, NSW Origin prop Junior Paulo, Maroons hooker Reed Mahoney, improved forward Isaiah Papali’i and consistent back-rower Ryan Matterson.”
New Zealand’s transfer market strategy is an intriguing one to say the least, as they have only signed Shaun Johnson for next season but have been linked with many players for 2023, with could lead one to believe that they see 2022 as a bit of a write-off and are looking to make an impact in two years.
On top of now leading the race to sign Niukore, the Warriors are reportedly chasing Joseph Manu, Dylan Brown and Luke Metcalf for 2023, although the Metcalf signing will likely only come to fruition if they miss out on Manu or Brown.
Light speculation has it that the Warriors are looking to have a spine of Reece Walsh at fullback, Joseph Manu at five-eighth, Shaun Johnson at halfback and Dylan Brown at hooker in 2023.
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