Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Logan Swann has been shunted into the "disposable" lane at the Warriors.
The 20-test Kiwi and Stacey Jones are the only players who have been with the club since day one but it looks like the last of Swann's 111 games for the club may have been a shocker against the Bulldogs in round six.
He has been unwanted in the top side since, proving himself valuable in eight weeks with the Eastern Tornadoes in national domestic competition. But the Bartercard Cup is no launching pad to push for inclusion in this season's Kiwi squad for a one-off against Australia and the England tour.
Warriors coach Daniel Anderson has maintained that he will not rotate players for the sake of it, and that Swann has to force his way back in. The side's eight-game record winning streak that began after the loss to the Dogs hasn't helped his cause in that regard.
The big back-rower has the remainder of this season on his contract and an option to stay for next year. He looks set to stick out this season in the hope of getting a chance as the usual toll in injuries and suspensions bites. And, because he could not stand seeing them go through to a grand final after he had gone elsewhere.
But yesterday chief executive Mick Watson confirmed that Swann had been allowed permission to negotiate with other clubs before the June 30 anti-tampering deadline and Swann has apparently accepted that his future lies elsewhere.
"Logan is unhappy, he wants to play first grade and he can't get back into the team, there's a lot of back-rowers in front of him," Watson said.
Swann's father, Gene, who is his manager, said several clubs had already shown interest in the 26-year-old and two had offered him an immediate premiership start.
One of those is South Sydney, which is A$600,000 ($695,000) under the salary cap.
"It's a hard choice for him. I don't think these others have a chance of making the grand final this year and if the Warriors get there ... well, that's every player's dream. And he's been there from day one and wouldn't want to be somewhere else watching it."
Gene Swann said his son was frustrated but both he and Watson denied any acrimony.
The Warriors have been allowed leeway with Swann and fullback Ivan Cleary (cut last week) because almost all the playing 17 who have won the last eight games are signed for 2003-2004 or beyond, as is all the immediate back-up. Lifting the salaries of the up-and-comers means something has to give elsewhere, and both Cleary and Swann are in the $200,000 to $300,000 bracket.
The only ones in the squad of 26 still in limbo are Australians Kevin Campion, Mark Tookey, Justin Morgan and David Myles.
Of those, Campion seems a certainty to go with Monty Betham coming back from injury to take over at lock. Campion represents a big price tag and will probably be picked up by a club such as North Queensland, who can use his guts and teaching skills.
Tookey will command a high price but Swann's departure would make cash available; on the other hand, the Warriors have props to burn, so Tookey is in the balance.
Like Swann, Justin Morgan and Myles will be told to go to the market on June 30.
Myles, 24, has played 38 of his 55 NRL games for the club but has not had a start this year and has no obvious positional target. Morgan, 27 next month, has played 18 of his 123 games for the Warriors after following Anderson from Parramatta when the club was in a hole and short of experienced starters. He now has hefty competition for a place.
Watson said Myles and Morgan were still in the frame but would have permission to go into the market and negotiate and, if the pair were offered deals the Warriors couldn't match, the club would have to wear that and replace them.
They would not be leaping into the market to replace any of these, come "T" (for transfer)-Day.
There are no obvious holes that need filling. The crucial positions of large and mobile props, smart hookers and halves, strong back-rowers and centres, and speed wide are already covered.
At Anderson's old club, the Eels, back-rowers Ian Hindmarsh and former Warrior David Solomona are off-contract but it's hard to see why they would let Swann go, then chase one of those.
Souths are interested in buying Eels and Kiwi centre David Vaealiki and Rooster Ryan Cross, Kiwi back-rower Tony Puletua, Rooster Bryan Fletcher and Solomona as well as Swann, and Dragons half Willie Peters.
Former Warrior Joe Galuvao, who went to Penrith on a game-by-game deal and has played 12, has been signed by the club through the 2003-2004 seasons.