The South Sydney Rabbitohs have earmarked Nathan Fien as the man to fill their vacant No.7 jersey next season.
The Sun-Herald can reveal that incoming Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire had initially sounded out his Wigan playmaker, Thomas Leuluai, to replace Chris Sandow next year. Leuluai is keen to return to the NRL for the first time since 2004 and sought permission to leave the Warriors before his contract expired. However, the Super League powerhouse wasn’t prepared to grant him an early release.
Maguire still views the New Zealand international as the long-term halfback option for the Bunnies but will have to find a stop-gap solution. Another Kiwi representative, Fien, is seen as the man to fill the void after Sandow agreed to join the Eels. Fien has also been linked with Newcastle.
Fien’s manager, Jim Banaghan, has heard about the interest from Redfern but had not been contacted by the club. ”I’ve definitely heard the rumours, they’re quite deafening,” he said. ”I’ve heard there’s interest from several clubs, from a number of third parties, but as yet no one has spoken to me directly. Unless something special comes forward that requires me to approach St George Illawarra, as far as I’m concerned he’s at St George Illawarra next year.”
The St George Illawarra Dragons have used Fien predominantly as a hooker off the bench. However, the 31-year-old is a versatile player who has previously shifted into the halves at international level. He has played 21 Tests for the Kiwis. The Rabbitohs are desperate to nail down a halves combination after letting Sandow slip from their grasp. Pivot John Sutton’s contract was recently extended, while internal candidates include Adam Reynolds and Malcolm Webster. Greg Inglis could also come under consideration for the No.6 jersey.