The Wests Tigers have poached respected recruitment guru David Warwick to help tie down four of their highest profile stars as the scramble for the signatures of skipper Aaron Woods, NSW No.1 James Tedesco and boom halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks heats up.
Warwick, who spent a decade at Manly helping build a formidable roster for Des Hasler and Geoff Toovey at the perennial finalists, will join the Tigers after just 12 months in the role of recruitment manager at the Dragons.
And one of his first priorities will be to help the Tigers’ newly-appointed general manager of football, Kelly Egan, with negotiations to keep their superstar quartet at Concord beyond 2017.
Egan, formerly Hasler’s right-hand man at the Bulldogs, only reverted to the off-field role after replacing Mark O’Neill in November.
It means Egan and Warwick will be charged with the responsibility of keeping together the nucleus of a roster which has shown promise and came within a win of making the finals last year under Jason Taylor.
But there are no shortage of suitors for the Tigers’ top cubs. Woods and Tedesco are likely NSW regulars, while Blues legend Brad Fittler has urged Moses and Brooks to join them.
The protracted Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations means Egan and Warwick will have their work cut out bedding down any deals in the immediate future, but Egan said it was “at the top end of his inbox” to tie down the Tigers’ headline acts.
Warwick’s appointment at the Tigers means he will replace Warren McDonnell, who has joined Hasler as part of a backroom shake-up at Belmore and a recruitment merry-go-round over summer.
The Dragons are in the process of bolstering their recruitment team given Warwick’s exit, but are in no rush after director of rugby league pathways, Ian Millward, and Warwick inked almost all of their most promising young players to long-term deals as part of a renewed focus on their junior nursery.
Skipper Gareth Widdop and Australian and NSW representative Josh Dugan are their two biggest names off-contract at the end of 2017. Both returned to training with Paul McGregor’s side on Wednesday after their Four Nations commitments.
Warwick’s brief tenure at the Dragons came after St George Illawarra lost Peter Mulholland to the Canberra Raiders at the end of the 2015 season.