Peta Hiku No 1 priority for Canterbury Bulldogs

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 09/03/2014
Peta Hiku
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EX WARRIOR: Peta Hiku in action for the Sea Eagles.

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The Bulldogs are after Gisborne-born Peta Hiku as their long-term replacement for Ben Barba at fullback.

The 21-year-old, who was on the wing for the Sea Eagles last night against the Storm, had a breakthrough season in 2013, playing in 12 of their fixtures.

Sunday News understands Bulldogs coach Des Hasler is a keen admirer of Hiku and, having failed to lure the Kiwis' Josh Hoffman down from the Broncos, has turned his attentions towards the 2012 Junior Kiwi.

The Bulldogs need a quality fullback to replace Barba, who was controversially allowed to move to Brisbane this year on compassionate grounds.

Sam Perrett played in the No 1 jersey for the Bulldogs in their 18-12 loss to the Broncos on Friday night and it's believed the club's plan is to make do this year then bring in a player who'll stay with them for at least five years, moulded to fit their style of play.

Hiku was the Warriors' under-20 player of the year in 2012, but could see that his path to the first-grade team with the Auckland club was blocked by Kevin Locke, Glen Fisiiahi and Carlos Tuimavave and signed a two-year deal with the Sea Eagles instead.

He made his NRL debut in their round six game against the Sharks and picked up the man of the match award in the 4-0 loss to the Roosters in last year's qualifying final.

The Bulldogs' interest in Hiku is potentially bad news for Kevin Locke. The Warriors fullback was allowed to talk to clubs at the end of last season as it was apparent that he'd struggle to hold onto the No 1 jersey this year because of the arrival of Sam Tomkins.

The Bulldogs and Panthers were both interested in picking Locke up, but the Warriors eventually decided that they wanted to keep him after all.

However, it's highly likely that Locke will depart the Warriors at the end of the year when his current contract comes to an end and if the Bulldogs are able to snare Hiku, it looks like that door will have closed for Locke.

Meanwhile, the Kiwis look set to play their Four Nations game against England in Dunedin late this year.

And the Warriors' reserve grade team lost 38-24 to Wentworthville in the New South Wales Cup yesterday.

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