The New Zealand Warriors are set to back in duo Wayde Egan and Karl Lawton instead of pursuing out-of-favour Kiwi Brandon Smith, per Stuff.nz.
Smith was made aware by Melbourne Storm that he would be free to assess his options elsewhere for the 2022 season.
While many paired the departing Storm hooker and the Auckland club following the news, Warriors CEO Cameron George was quick to throw his reliance behind his club’s current dummy-half stocks.
“Without a shadow of a doubt he’s certainly a terrific player but our focus is purely 2021. We’ve got some good depth there,” George told Stuff.
“Wayde Egan and Karl Lawton are both quality players and our focus is with them for 2021. We’re really confident with the way they are going that they’re going to add significant value to our overall squad.
“[Smith’s] obviously got a desire to play hooker so from our perspective, that sort of pigeon-holes him into a place where we’ve got depth.”
Both Egan and Lawton proved to be a viable one-two punch, with the latter enjoying a breakout season with the Warriors.
George added his excitement for the pair to flourish under new coach Nathan Brown.
“We’re really, really encouraged by Wayde and Karl,” he said.
“We’re very excited for both those guys and what work ‘Browny’ is going to do with them in the future.”
According to Stuff, Smith isn’t too focused on the idea of moving home and across the Tasman, instead eyeing the No.9 jumper at any NRL rival.
While veteran Cameron Smith is still contemplating his future, Maroons star Harry Grant will return to Victoria following his loan spell with the Tigers and is set to be taken as a priority over Brandon Smith.