Here’s a prediction: Brent Tate will not be playing for the New Zealand Warriors in 2011.
And how pray tell, did you come up with this insight, I hear the more sceptical of you, ask? Elementary my dear Watson, it’s quite simple really. You see, the Warrior’s management have been busying themselves in the player market. Just today they have announced the signings for 2011 of Parramatta players, Feleti Mateo and Kristian Inu. Not only that, but they have also brought in Sam Rapira’s brother, Steve for 2011.
Make no mistake about it, these are extremely good signings for the club. Mateo is a backrower that can also cover stand-off. And what the Warriors have been badly missing since the departure of Ali Lauititi is a back/secondrower that has the ability to offload. Over the last three seasons Mateo has ranked in the top six for offloads in the NRL. Not only that, but he has the ability to make breaks that the Warriors seem to lack at times in those positions currently. Sure, they have Ben Mautalino, but they seem intent on using him more as a battering ram. Potential he may have, but as yet he has yet to break through into the big time. So Mateo’s signing will give his new team the x-factor it currently lacks.
And then we have Inu who is a player that can cover wing and centre. With Tate and Jerome Ropati in the centres, where does Ivan Cleary propose to play Inu? After all, they surely aren’t spending a reported 400,000 per season on a player like Inu just to sit on the reserves bench, or worse, in reserve grade. The fact that they have signed Inu while Tate is still on the roster suggests that they already know that they will be without him next year. As the club has Manu Vatuvei and Kevin Locke as wingers, it is unlikely that Cleary and CEO Wayne Scurrah brought Inu in as nothing more than cover. While it is always good to have depth, generally players brought in for that reason do not cost 400k pa.
Which brings us to the salary cap, a subject which has had a considerable airing of late, due to the fiasco that is the Melbourne Storm. Now, there is no suggestion that the Warriors are currently over the cap, nor that they will be in 2011. However, if they are bringing in two players for a reputed 400k pa each, as well as signing Rapira for, at a guess, let’s say 200k pa, then some of the current playing roster would need to vacate the premises. What we do know is that Steve Price will retire at the end of this season, so there is 400k approximately saved. We’ll give that to Mateo. Now we know that the Warriors have resigned Michael Luck this week so they will not save any money there. There is also speculation that if Melbourne releases Adam Blair then Warriors management will go after him as well. He is likely to cost them 350k pa. With Inu’s salary of 400k, and assuming they sign Blair; the Warriors are spending an additional 950k in 2011. That means Tate and probably two others on reasonable coin will need to go.
So how are they going to cover the pay of Inu and Blair as well as Rapira under the salary cap? Either the club is significantly under the spending limit currently or they know that they are going to lose Tate and are also allowing for the possibility that they could offload a couple of higher profile players that are out of favour such as Wade McKinnon.
Certainly the smart money is on Tate departing Mt Smart at the end of 2010.