New Zealand Warriors, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Joseph Manu, Ryan Papenhuyzen

The New Zealand Warriors are reportedly targeting a pair of left-field options to replace captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

The 27-year-old shocked the NRL community by switching codes to chase a spot in the All Blacks squad for the 2023 World Cup.

Tuivasa-Sheck’s departure leaves a gaping hole in the Warriors roster — he was not only a leader within the squad, but also a Dally M Medal winner in 2018.

However, The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Crawley reported the club are eyeing Sydney Roosters centre Joseph Manu and Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen as candidates for their new marquee player.

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Manu and Papenhuyzen are contracted to their respective clubs until the end of the 2022 season, which creates a dilemma for the Warriors considering Tuivasa-Sheck is set to depart this year.

Other notable fullbacks who are available after the 2021 premiership include St George Illawarra’s Matt Dufty and North Queensland’s Scott Drinkwater.

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Tuivasa-Sheck’s departure reportedly cleared a mammoth $1.1 million per year on the club’s salary cap — making the Warriors one of the most prominent players in the NRL transfer market this season.

Last week, reported the Warriors were interested in snatching Drinkwater away from the Cowboys.

North Queensland are also reportedly trying to hold onto Drinkwater, but it seems unlikely the Cowboys will be able to compete with the war chest the Warriors are armed with.

Considering his Kiwi heritage, Manu shapes up an ideal candidate to replace Tuivasa-Sheck as the face of rugby league in New Zealand.

The 24-year-old has played 91 games for the Roosters since making his NRL debut in 2016, scoring 30 tries. He has also represented New Zealand in five Test matches since 2018.

— with Tyson Otto

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