The New Zealand Warriors are on the lookout for a back-up halfback and five-eighth for next season after Mason Lino moved to Newcastle.
The 24-year-old signed a two year deal with the Knights, leaving the Warriors short of experience in the halves.
The Warriors have the promising Chanel Harris-Tavita and Hayze Perham on their books, but 2019 could be too early to rely on the duo to make the jump to NRL level if there are long-term injuries to Blake Green or Shaun Johnson.
Lino has been a long-term understudy at the Warriors but has gradually become frustrated by the role.
“The young fella had quite a bit of ambition,” New Zealand’s general manager of football Brian Smith told Stuff.
“When I spoke to him, I knew that he had that feel about him, that he made progression this season and he couldn’t see how he was going to get more games at our place.”
“It’s not like he’s only done this for a year, he’s been here for a long time.”
“I think he did struggle to play up near his best in our ISP [Intrust Super Premiership NSW] team this year and that’s sometimes a sign that it’s no longer the fairytale type stuff, of the young player, who’s playing for his home club and that he’s becoming impatient and a bit disenchanted at having to play at that level.”
Meanwhile, Smith denied reports that the Warriors have lost patience with Issac Luke over the drawn out contract negotiations.
Luke’s current deal with the club has ended and is reportedly on the verge of signing for the Knights.
Smith said the club didn’t have a problem with Luke taking his time to make a decision.
“We’ve shown respect for Issac’s situation and all of the way through it nothing has changed for us,” Smith told Stuff.
“He’s being asked to do a very awkward thing and there is no one at our place that’s jumping up and down about anything, we’ve tried to help him through it and we’ll continue to do that.”
“Hopefully, we can find a positive outcome for us both and I hope he’ll be wearing a Warriors jumper again next season.”