NRL: Ex-Warrior Isaiah Papali'i reportedly headlines four-man shortlist to replace Addin Fonua-Blake at Kiwi club

NZ Warriors have reportedly drawn up a four-strong shortlist of players they would want to replace wantaway forward Addin Fonua-Blake.   

Fonua-Blake, 28, appears certain to leave the Warriors after the 2024 season and requested an immediate release from the Auckland club last month.   

While the Warriors managed to convince the Dally M Prop of the Year to play out next season, the club is understood to have set terms that would allow Fonua-Blake to leave early, with his current contract running until the end of 2026.   

Among those terms is Fonua-Blake reportedly being allowed to join a Sydney-club only, while the Warriors will also demand a player in exchange. 

Addin Fonua-Blake.
Addin Fonua-Blake. Photo credit: Photosport

Newshub understands Fonua-Blake and his management met with representatives from Wests Tigers, while they were also pictured with officials from Canterbury Bulldogs.   

St George Dragons have also made it clear they want Fonua-Blake, with coach Shane Flanagan a known admirer.   

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Warriors' shortlist for replacements contains players from those three clubs.   

Perhaps the most significant name on that reported shortlist is former Warriors forward Isaiah Papali'i, who has evolved into one of the NRL's premier forwards since leaving the club.   

Now 25, Papali'i came through the Warriors junior programme and played 63 first grade games for the club.   

A move to Parramatta Eels followed, where Papali'i played 63 games, including the club's run to the 2022 Grand Final, where they were beaten by Penrith Panthers.   

In 2023, Papali'i moved to the Tigers and played 23 games for Wests, who finished last on the NRL ladder.   

Also on the reported shortlist from the Tigers is prop Stefano Utoikamanu, 23, who was born in Auckland, but has represented both New South Wales at State of Origin level and Toa Samoa in tests.   

From the Bulldogs, the Warriors have reportedly set their sights on second rower Viliame Kikau, who has a relationship with coach Andrew Webster, after the pair worked together at Penrith Panthers.    

Kikau left the Panthers for the Bulldogs in 2023 and is only one season into his four-year contract.   

Lastly, the Warriors are reportedly interested in Dragons second-rower Jaydn Su'a, 26, who was born in Christchurch, but has played for both Queensland and Samoa at representative level. 

Su'a boasts more than 100 games of first-grade experience across stints with Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs, before moving to the Dragons at the start of 2022.    

Currently, Su'a's contract expires at the end of 2024, leaving him free to negotiate with other clubs as of November 1.   

Cronulla Sharks also loom as a possible destination for Fonua-Blake, after freeing up close to $1 million per season on their salary cap, with the departures of Connor Tracey and Matt Moylan in recent weeks.