Warriors centre Solomone Kata may be on the move

Author
Michael Burgess - NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 16 Jun 2019, 3:35PM
Solomone Kata. Photo / Photosport
Solomone Kata. Photo / Photosport

Warriors centre Solomone Kata may be on the move

Author
Michael Burgess - NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 16 Jun 2019, 3:35PM

Solomone Kata may have played his last game for the Warriors.

The powerful centre has fallen down the pecking order at the Auckland club and hasn't played first grade since round six.

The Herald on Sunday understands his predicament has caught the eye of the Melbourne Storm, who are considering an offer for the 24-year-old.

It's not straightforward, as Kata is contracted at Mt Smart until the end of next season.

For any move to occur, the Tongan representative, who has played more games (93) for the Warriors than any other current player, would need a release.

The Warriors have plenty of cover at centre, with Peta Hiku, Patrick Herbert, Gerard Beale and Blake Ayshford, as well as youngsters including Hayze Perham.

The club would need to weigh the risk factor — in case there are injuries — with the opportunity cost of having a player of Kata's standing in reserve grade.

But if Kata is granted a release, it would allow the club to bring in someone in a position where they have less depth.

The Warriors roster is full; Kodi Nikorima took the 30th and final spot in the top grade squad, so they have no room to manoeuvre.

Any move needs to happen before June 30, when the NRL transfer window closes.

Kata made his first-grade debut at the start of the 2015 season, after being a breakout star in the Holden Cup.

He overcame some considerable obstacles on his way to the NRL, arriving in New Zealand as a teenager on a rugby scholarship at Auckland's Sacred Heart College, after growing up in a village on the Tongan island of Vava'u.

His command of English was limited when he arrived and he also had to adjust to big city life.

But he thrived in his first few seasons, quickly displacing compatriot Konrad Hurrell.

His powerful running and solid frame made him one of the hardest players in the competition to stop from close range and the tries flowed. He scored 12 in his debut season and 15 in 2016.

In all, he has scored a staggering 46 tries for the Warriors, at an average of almost one every two games.

But in the past 12 months, he has copped some criticism for his defensive decision-making and ability to set up his outsides.

Herbert took his spot for the Anzac Day clash in Melbourne and enjoyed an impressive debut.

Kearney has since stayed loyal to Herbert, who is seen as the best option for the future.

The Warriors have a week off due to the upcoming representative round, which made Friday night's 24-20 win over the Gold Coast Titans vitally important.

It wasn't the prettiest display of the season but they at least showed desire and intensity in a difficult second half.

They struggled to get any ball in Titans territory for much of the final 40 minutes and also copped a couple of dubious refereeing calls but maintained their focus and finished strongly.

Coach Stephen Kearney admitted his overriding post-match emotion was relief, as the Warriors recorded just their third win since the first week of April.

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