Some are playing for their jobs, some are deep into negotiations to stay, some know they won’t be in Auckland this time next year. The Warriors are in top form, but they’re also deep into contract season, with the futures of 15 of their senior squad being discussed.
Is it a distraction?
“It can be, without a doubt, and it’s not easy to answer,” admits coach Ivan Cleary frankly.
“My role as coach is always to be as honest with them as possible – it’s one of the challenges of the NRL these days and I think the players understand that. The best way to handle it is to concentrate on what they are doing: there’s always distractions in footy – family, finances, and this is just another one. We’ve already got a couple of guys who know they are not going to be here. But regardless of what you’re doing in the future, it’s about what you’re doing now.”
Players reckon they’re not distracted. “Heaps of people have been asking me [about his future],” says hooker Alehana Mara.
“I would love to stay at the Warriors, love to be one of those guys who stays at one club all his career, but my manager [Sam Ayoub] will sort out what is best for me and the future of my family. I’m pretty keen to stay here. But I know I am the one making money for myself: if I am playing good, my contract will reflect that, and he will sort that out for me.”
And at the other end of the scale, veteran Shaun Berrigan says: “Not at all [distracted]. At my age, when I first came here, I knew I had to take it year by year. Whether the club wanted me to go … it’s whatever is best for the club. I’ve loved it here … I couldn’t have asked for more.”
WHERE THEY STAND
Lance Hohaia: signed for St Helens, gone.
Brett Seymour: off-contract, going.
James Maloney: club taken up one-year option, staying.
Kevin Locke: club taking up a one-year option, staying.
James Gavet: has a future, expected to stay.
Shaun Berrigan: undecided, likely to stay.
Alehana Mara: off-contract, undecided.
Joel Moon: out of favour, likely to go.
Pita Godinet: project player, likely to stay.
Aaron Heremaia: told to talk to other clubs, going.
Jacob Lillyman: in top form, likely to stay.
Isaac John: club has an option, likely to go.
Jeremy Latimore: off-contract, likely to go.
Matt Robinson: hasn’t got close to top grade, likely to go.
Ivan Penehe: injury-blighted, could get another chance, likely to stay.