NRL 3 years ago

Manu Vatuvei vs young crop of Warriors backs

  • Manu Vatuvei vs young crop of Warriors backs

The Warriors are coming off their second loss of the season, succumbing to the Brisbane Broncos 24-16 in a game celebrating 20 years of their existence and one of their most iconic players over that time Manu Vatuvei sees his career at a crossroads. 

Vatuvei responded well last year by having his best season in a Warriors jumper. Not only did he score 17 tries but he also eliminated the silly errors that have cursed his career.

Vatuvei's contract runs out at the end of the season and his club is currently locked in negotiations to keep the powerful winger, despite making overtures for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and the club's huge depth in that position.

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Advantages for paying up and keeping Vatuvei include his cult-like status, his consistency as the club's leading try scorer for the past eight seasons and currently him peaking as a player, with coach McFadden stating "Manu is arguably playing his best footy right now and we value that".

Vatuvei would like to remain with the Warriors but only if they make him a good offer and that's where the problems begin.

Most club’s in the NRL focus their salary cap on the spine of the team; hooker, halfback, five-eighth and fullback and like to find cheaper options in their outside backs. Despite this fans would say the winger deserves his big money, especially when you look at his career stats; 137 tries scored and the club does have cap room but they could risk short-term glory to develop one of their many promising young backs.

Look at the case of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, last year their iconic winger Nathan Merritt and the club's greatest ever try scorer was dropped for youngster Alex Johnston — who went onto score 21 tries and win a premiership in his first season.

Vatuvei could face the same faith if at any stage of this season his form drops.

The team could go in many directions if they take a punt on their young outside backs. They could go the same route as the Roosters did two years ago, when they used the aerial threat of Daniel Tupou and gave Roger Tuivasa-Sheck the chance to develop on the wing and learn from Anthony Minichiello — just slot David Fusitu'a into the Daniel Tupou role and swap Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for Tuimoala Lolohea. 

Alternatively they could use the power and pace of Solomona Kata and Ngani Laumape or the speed of Glen Fisiiahi.

If their offer doesn't succeed and they lose Vatuvei(which I just don't see happening) the Warriors and fans don't really have too much to worry about for the future of the outside back position— currently the club has the best group of outside backs they have ever produced.

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