Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
The Warriors are keeping Mark Tookey but last year's co-captain Kevin Campion is going.
You don't get faster when you are turning 30. With an average of close to 30 tackles a game, Campion knows his time in the NRL is drawing to a close.
The North Queensland Cowboys, South Sydney, Penrith and St George are throwing money at the 194-game veteran as they seek an experienced player to rebuild their clubs the way he has helped the Warriors.
Club chief executive officer Mick Watson confirmed yesterday what was predicted in the Herald a fortnight ago: "We can't afford to keep him."
Watson said Campion had made the difference in hardening up the squad via his work ethic. The club was thankful and would not be keen to meet him in opposition on the paddock, but had to meet the salary cap of A$3.25 million ($3.77 million).
The Cowboys, Souths, the new Manly Sea Eagles and Canberra want Tookey.
But the barnstorming prop said yesterday that he wanted to stay in Auckland.
Watson said the Warriors wanted to keep him, saying: "It's purely about the money now."
Tookey said he hoped to settle within a fortnight. He was happy with his team-mates, his form, life in Auckland and the club's future.
The former Parramatta player has become one of the crowd favourites in his adopted city.
He has previously spoken about how much it means to him to have Ericsson Stadium full of Warriors' fans chanting his name.
"The home crowd is great. They're worth 10 points to us every game. They lift the guys that much."
While several clubs are chasing him, Tookey is not allowed to negotiate because of the anti-tampering deadline of June 30.
The Warriors will be lucky to find a kicker who can achieve Ivan Cleary's 86 per cent accuracy or a lock who can make the number of hard tackles that Campion and Logan Swann achieve.
But the cost of keeping those three, at ages 31, 30 and 26, for one more season is about the same as holding onto Clinton Toopi, 22, Ali Lauiti'iti, 21, and Lance Hohaia, 19, for another three seasons.