RECRUITMENT and retention is starting to heat up again at Warrington Wolves, with chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick calling the coming weeks “a busy time” on that front.

The Wire are actively in the market for a replacement for departed prop Thomas Mikaele and remain in discussions with key players about extending their time at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Our Warrington Wolves reporter Matt Turner sat down at length with Fitzpatrick for an update on those plans…

Warrington Guardian:

Tanginoa on the radar?

Mikaele was granted an immediate release from his contract in order to return to Australia for family reasons, with NRL side Gold Coast Titans paying a transfer fee for his services.

The club are keen to replace him and have been linked with several players, including former Queensland prop Dunamis Lui and Wakefield Trinity powerhouse Kelepi Tanginoa.

It is understood Lui is not on the club’s radar but they are believed to be admirers of Tanginoa, who has played 81 times for Trinity since joining in 2019 and was named in the Super League Dream Team in 2020.

Capable of playing through the middle and in the back row, the 29-year-old fits the mould of what they are looking for but any deal would be difficult to do given Tanginoa is one of Wakefield’s top earners and is under contract until the end of next year.

Warrington Guardian: Wire have been linked with a move for Wakefield's Kelepi TanginoaWire have been linked with a move for Wakefield's Kelepi Tanginoa (Image:

When asked about the hunt for Mikaele’s replacement, Fitzpatrick did not name names but insists they will be patient and it may well be that they do not do any business before the end of the year.

“We’re waiting for the right deal to come along,” he said.

“We’ve got some players coming back into the fold, so we’re not in a bad spot but when the right player comes along, we’ll go for it.

“We’ve got the cap space and a quota spot, so we’re actively monitoring the market but it has to be the right person as well as the right player.

“What we’re seeing this year is that we have a lot of good people in the group, so we don’t want someone to come in and upset the balance we’ve currently got.

“It could get to the end of the season and we don’t bring anyone in. That may be the case if the right player doesn’t become available.”

Mikaele played his final game for the club against Hull FC on Saturday after issues with homesickness within his family came to a head in the past fortnight.

Fitzpatrick said the club spoke to the 25-year-old about trying to prolong his exit even just for a short period but it became clear that doing so “would not be the right thing to do.”

Warrington Guardian: Mikaele played his final game for The Wire on SaturdayMikaele played his final game for The Wire on Saturday (Image: Mike Boden)

“In pre-season, his partner was struggling with homesickness so we were aware of that,” he said.

“I had a chat with him on camp in Portugal and he was struggling with it.

“Fortunately, his mother-in-law then came across and spent some time with the family, but it came to a head again when she went home a couple of weeks ago.

“They had just welcomed a new baby as well so it’s quite difficult and they can feel isolated.

“We made an extra effort to try and connect with the family and provide them with the right support, but Thomas and Jasmine had made the decision that they wanted to go home and we respect that decision.

“We had discussions with Thomas about maybe prolonging it until the end of the season or even just for a few more weeks, but it wasn’t the right thing to do.

“A real big thing for us is connecting with the players’ families so with that in mind, we allowed him to return home.

“Notwithstanding that, we did get a transfer fee in return from Gold Coast.”

George Williams contract talks

A key retention priority for The Wire is their star half-back George Williams, with Fitzpatrick having already confirmed talks over a new deal have begun.

The England international is contracted to the club until the end of 2024 and has gone on record saying he will honour that deal.

However, he did not rule out a return to the NRL beyond that as rumours of a move to Wests Tigers refuse to go away.

Fitzpatrick gave an update on the discussions taking place with Williams’ management and confirmed an offer had been tabled to the 28-year-old.

“The talks have been pretty positive,” he said.

“We’ve made George a fantastic offer – we love him and we want him to remain here for a number of years.

“He’s a real competitor and he’s been sensational. He’s been the best player in Super League by some distance and it would be great for the game over here if we can retain George beyond 2024.

“We’ve no interest in selling George prior to that.”

Warrington Guardian: Warrington are keen to extend George Williams' contract beyond its current expiry date of November 2024Warrington are keen to extend George Williams' contract beyond its current expiry date of November 2024 (Image:

Push to retain Clark and Currie

Hooker Daryl Clark and second rower Ben Currie headline a relatively short list of front-line Wire players who are currently in the final year of their deals.

As things stand, they will be free to speak to rival clubs about moves for 2024 and beyond from May 1 onwards and rumours have already started to circulate about Clark in particular being of interest to defending Super League champions St Helens.

Talks are ongoing with both players and Fitzpatrick reiterated that he wants to see them stay at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.

“We’re keen to retain both of those players and we’re in discussions with their management teams,” he said.

“There’s also other players who are off-contract next year that we would like to extend, so it’s a busy time for us.

“In a salary-capped sport, it is difficult – players increase in value, so their salary expectation increases so when you’re trying to fit all of that under a salary cap can be tricky.

“We’re in a good spot – we very rarely lose players that we want to keep here at Warrington.

“We always tend to make it happen in some kind of way, so it’s a busy period for retention.”

Warrington Guardian: Daryl Clark is out of contract at the end of this yearDaryl Clark is out of contract at the end of this year (Image: Mike Boden)