The New Zealand Warriors say Addin Fonua-Blake will stay with the team at least for next season, a day after the prop crashed the NRL transfer market.
The superstar forward has informed the Warriors of his intention to return to Sydney, requesting a immediate release from the club for humanitarian reasons.
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Fonua-Blake is under contract until at least the end of 2026 on a deal worth around $1 million per season, making him one of the highest-paid players in the NRL.
Dally M Prop of the Year has been a big reason for the Warriors’ resurgence this year and it would be a huge blow if he were to leave.
But on Friday, Warriors CEO Cameron George reassured fans that Fonua-Blake would suit up at the club next season and that they would re-evaluate his options from 2025 onwards.
“It was confirmed yesterday that Fonua-Blake has requested compassionate release for the final three years of his contract,” George said in a statement.
“After discussions overnight, George said an agreement had been reached for Fonua-Blake to remain with the New Zealand Warriors for the 2024 season while assessing his personal situation for 2025 and beyond.”
Fonua-Blake said: “My only motivation for this move is family reasons.
“But I really want all Warriors fans to know that I am fully committed to going into the 2024 season.
“I can’t wait to get back to training with my teammates.”
There would be no shortage of suitors for a man considered one of the best front-rowers in the NRL with Payne Haas, James Fisher-Harris and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui.
The Dragons are in desperate need of an elite forward pack, while the Bulldogs, Wests Tigers and Sea Eagles would all happily open the checkbook for a star prop.
New Dragons coach Shane Flanagan said St George Illawarra would be extremely interested in signing Fonua-Blake.
But those plans will have to wait at least a year after the Warriors and Fonua-Blake agreed the 27-year-old would remain on the other side of the divide for the 2024 season.
Fonua-Blake joined the Warriors after the 2020 season after also requesting a compassionate release from the Manly Sea Eagles.
He is reportedly the hottest name in the NRL transfer market with Jarome Luai questioning whether he stays at Penrith or moves elsewhere from 2025.