By Michael Brown
The Warriors are chasing Manly's Michael Witt as they look to find a solution to the five-eighths position.
It's understood the 22-year-old half and accomplished goalkicker still has a year remaining on his Manly contract but the Warriors are prepared to take over his $200,000-a-year deal.
Warriors management are believed to have told Witt he would likely be the starting five-eighths next season and, while he's tempted by the offer, is hopeful of negotiating a two-year deal.
Witt made his NRL debut in 2003 and starred, twice sparking his original club, Parramatta, into good runs of form. He was named the club's Rookie of the Year in 2003 and impressed with 24 points in a 48-18 defeat of the Warriors in 2004.
Although he still had three years to run on his Eels contract, he was told he wasn't in the club's plans and was picked up by the Sea Eagles.
He played 19 games for Manly in his first season but the arrival of Matt Orford at the club and the good form of promising youngster Travis Burns means Witt has played only one NRL game this season.
He's landed 137 goals in his 47-game NRL career, was selected for the New South Wales Residents this year and was the first Premier League player to reach 100 points this season.
Jerome Ropati has done a good job for the Warriors in the No 6 jersey this season after the experiment with Sione Faumuina was ditched, but coach Ivan Cleary has said he sees Ropati as more of a long-term centre.
If the Warriors secure Witt, it would almost complete their squad for next season with only a winger/centre utility still in their sights.
Second rower Awen Guttenbeil is expected to announce his future this week, with Super League outfit Castleford believed the most likely destination.
* The NZRL are expected to finally sell their stake in the Warriors this week in a move that will see Cullen Sports take 100 per cent ownership of the club. It has been a messy, fractious relationship and both parties agree it would be preferable for the NZRL to sell their shares to Cullen. NZRL chairman Selwyn Bennett said he expected this to be formalised this week.
* A team of former Kiwis rolled back the clock last night when they beat an invitational side 14-12 in the curtain raiser to the Warriors game at Mt Smart Stadium last night.
The Graham Lowe-coached side jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to a brace of tries by Sam Panapa and another by Mark Bournville, but the invitational team hit back to close the gap after Greg Molloy and Reece Guy breached the Kiwis' defence.
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