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Tevaga ponders new deal and reverse Brandon Smith role as rivals circle

Warriors forward Jazz Tevaga has accepted he will need to play hooker as well as lock if he accepts a two-year offer to remain with the club.

Tevaga, who was the 2018 Dally M interchange player of the year, has attracted interest from rival clubs, with Canterbury among those linked to the Samoa international, and he said he wants to finalise his future soon.

The 25-year-old confirmed that is preference was to stay with the Warriors, but he would prefer to lock down the No.13 role rather than spend time at dummy-half if possible, and even nominated five-eighth Kodi Nikorima as a good hooking option.

However, Tohu Harris is the first-choice lock and Warriors coach Nathan Brown views Tevaga as fulfilling a reverse role to Melbourne’s Brandon Smith, who wants to play hooker but has spent most of his career at lock due to the presence of Cameron Smith and now Harry Grant.

“Brownie has explained to me that if I am to stay here at the club then that is the kind of role I would be playing,” Tevaga said.

“We have lots of quality middles, with Tohu, Addin Fonua-Blake, Kane Evans and others, so I understand that where I fit best in the team would be that utility role.

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“It is something I have to accept and get over, and just hone down on that hooker role as well. To be honest, I just want to be in the team but I want to play No.13 and if they need me to slot into hooker then fine.

“I prefer to play No.13 but I know that if I want a longer career I would have to be able to play hooker as that adds more value to me being in the team.

“Ideally, I want to stay at the Warriors and we are going through negotiations at the moment. I really just want what’s fair, but I love the Warriors and I love where we are headed.”

Despite his reluctance to play hooker, it is Tevaga’s versatility that makes him attractive to rival clubs and North Queensland are also believed to have some interest in the Samoa international, as well as the Bulldogs.

“There are a couple of clubs that are interested because everyone is looking for that player who can play the role I play,” Tevaga said. “I feel nowadays that the position I play is very important and every team needs one so there are a couple of teams out there who are keen.

“I know that this is a business first and I will go where I see a good opportunity or where the money is right. We have been pretty much living away from home at the moment, and I done it last year as well, so I think I could adapt pretty easily if I have to move but hopefully I will stay here.

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“I kind of want to get it sorted out sooner than later because the longer it goes on the more it plays on the mind. Most teams have their squads locked down by mid-year. If things don’t work out, I would be looking to play that role or No.13 somewhere else.”

With the emergence of Reece Walsh this season, Nikorima is likely to spend more time at dummy-half as he did last Sunday against Manly after the 18-year-old rising star was thrust into action from the interchange bench in the 54th minute.

Walsh was signed as the long-term replacement for rugby union-bound captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck but is already making an impact with the Warriors.

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“I think Reece is too good a player not to be playing and we want to start breeding him for next year when Rog goes so we will be looking to get him as much game time as we can,” Tevaga said.

“That means Kodi will have to slot into No.14, whether he likes it or not, and that will enable me to play more of a middle role.

“I think Kodi is a good No.14 as much as he hates it, and I think that is what’s best for the team at the moment.”

Meanwhile, the Warriors are in negotiations to extend Peta Hiku's stay at the club, despite the Kiwis centre being ruled out for the season with a shoulder injury.

 

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