The addition of star Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake to the NZ Warriors pack has been described as a 'scary' proposition for rival NRL clubs.
Warriors legend Monty Betham believes the embattled Auckland club has recruited exceptionally well for next season and Fonua-Blake's signing gives them a complete forward pack.
The Tongan international will join countryman Ben Murdoch-Masila in a daunting 2021 front row, which Betham compares to the duo of Ruben Wiki and Steve Price from more than a decade ago.
Add to that the return of Agnatius Paasi and Leeson Ah Mau, the experience of Jazz Tevaga, Kane Evans and Tohu Harris, and the youthful injection of Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Jack Murchie and Eliesa Katoa, the Warriors have an argument for the most versatile pack in the competition.
And recruitment guru Peter O'Sullivan might not be done yet, with Australian reports that the club has offered a big-money deal to 2020 Penrith loan prop Jack Hetherington.
Betham is encouraged by how club management has rebuilt the roster heading into next season and in Fonua-Blake, the Warriors have one of the competition's best players.
"It is exciting, because for the last few years, Addin has been the premier prop of the competition," Betham tells NRL.com.
"He is turning 25 in November, so we have got the best years of him, and when you get guys like Addin and Ben Murdoch-Masila running after each other, it gets a little bit scary."
The club centurion was front and centre when Wiki and Price arrived under Ivan Cleary in 2005, and witnessed first hand the impact two quality forwards can have on a developing team.
"You got that one-two punch with Ruben and Pricey together, and it is the same with the one-two punch of Addin and Ben Murdoch-Masila," he says
"With the names that the Warriors are putting together for next year, it is going to be a scary forward pack."
The Warriors have some cleaning up to do, as they head into the off-season. Isaiah Papalii may not be part of the club's plans beyond 2020, while Bunty Afoa has been told he can talk to other clubs, despite having a year to run on his current deal.
Adam Blair has a player option to remain at the club beyond this season, but Stuff reports the veteran is seriously considering retirement, given the likely prospect the Warriors will spend 2021 based in Australia.
Regardless, O'Sullivan is delighted with the club's new toys.
"Addin's signing could be one of the most important in the club’s history," O'Sullivan says. "He is exactly what we have been looking for to bring into our squad.
"The transformation of our pack is almost complete, having Addin along with Kane Evans and Ben Murdoch-Masila, plus the rise of young players like Eliesa, Jamayne and Jack, and injured players returning to complement the skill and work rate of Tohu and Jazz.
"Addin has a big motor, power, the skillset and the body shape we were looking for to take our pack to a new level.
"At 24 years of age, he has the best years in front of him as a premier front-rower in the NRL."
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