Warriors' Feleti Mateo makes powerful case

AARON LAWTON
Last updated 05:00 29/07/2012
FELETI MATEO
JASON OXENHAM/Fairfax NZ
FELETI MATEO: "I've been dropping hints to Eric. It was last week at a function and it was in front of everyone. But I've told 'Bluey' and the club that I'd like to stay."

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The Warriors are in the driving seat to re-sign offload king Feleti Mateo.

But if the ball-playing backrower does indeed extend his stay in Auckland beyond the 2013 season, the club will have to dust off the cheque book.

Discussions between the Warriors and Mateo's manager are yet to reach a formal stage, but the former Parramatta star has signalled a desire to stay on this side of the Tasman when his current contract ends next year. Last weekend, the 28-year-old chose a timely occasion to showcase his skills while the club's owners - Eric Watson and Owen Glenn - watched on at Mt Smart Stadium.

In a woeful losing team, Mateo was the standout and admitted a strong first-half against the Knights, in which he had a hand in all three of his side's tries, had done little to dampen his chances of getting a new deal. “I've been dropping hints to Eric. It was last week at a function and it was in front of everyone,” Mateo joked.

“But I've told ‘Bluey' [Warriors coach Brian McClennan] and the club that I'd like to stay.

“It's been talked about briefly but we've had no official meetings or anything like that.

“I've also briefly spoken with my manager and there's nothing on the table yet.”

Warriors CEO Wayne Scurrah said while it's early days, Mateo is the sort of player the club would like to keep. “We haven't presented anything formally to him at this point in time,” Scurrah said.

“But Feleti is certainly a well-regarded member of the club.”

With his on-field performances of late reaching a new level and both the club and Mateo keen to extend his stay, it will come down to the amount the Warriors are prepared to offer him. In their favour is the fact Mateo's fiancée Michelle works in the club's front office as the sponsorship coordinator. But if the price isn't right, the Tongan international has left the door open on a return to Sydney in 2014.

“I've definitely made a home here in Auckland, both on and off the field,” Mateo said. “I'm engaged and my fiancée and I are getting married over the break.

“But there are a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to signing a contract and deciding whether to go or stay.

“I'm obviously from Sydney and at one stage I do want to get back home . . . but if the price is right and things are going well, I'd definitely put my hand up to stay.

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“I love this club and I think the Warriors are going places with the young talent they have.

“And then with all the re-signings they've had, I'm hoping they've still got some cash left . . .”

Fans will definitely be hoping the same thing.

- Sunday Star Times

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