Addin Fonua-Blake has asked for an immediate release from his contract with the New Zealand Warriors so he can move back to Sydney for personal reasons.
It is a blow to the Warriors who are coming off their best season in many years, and who have been looking to rebuild the club, with Addin Fonua-Blake locked in to a long term deal and being a key part of that process.
The Warriors will no doubt be looking to replace Fonua-Blake was as close to a like, for like player as they can get, but the salary cap space he frees up for them could be used to their advantage, with a number of very handy players either becoming available, or maybe being able to be persuaded to join the clubs on a big, long term deal.
Where Fonua-Blake ends up is anyones guess. Clubs like the Dragons, Bulldogs, Tigers and Sea Eagles immediately come to mind as all are short on talent and don’t really have much to risk by moving players and salary cap space around to get him on board.
As for contending Sydney clubs, it’s harder to see any of them being able to free up so much cap space without blowing up their lineups.
It’s unlikely the Warriors would actually grant Fonua-Blake if it meant that any of his salary remained on their books. They also wouldn’t be interesting in giving up one of the better props in the game without receiving one or more players who would add a decent amount of talent to their squad.
Still, with rumours swirling around the NRL right now where you have someone like Ben Hunt who wants out of the Dragons, Jerome Luai unhappy at the Panthers undermining his value so publicly, Josh Addo-Carr not being in the good books at the Bulldogs, the availability of Fonua-Blake might see a few dominoes fall around the competition with player swaps happening all over the place.
It will be interesting to see where Fonua-Blake ends up, I just hope the Warriors don’t end up being short changed out of all of this. They did so well in 2023, I hope their 2024 season isn’t majorly impacted by this move.