When in form and on song, he is considered as one of the games most destructive wingers – and for off-contract New Zealand Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei, he has a big decision to make regarding his future.
Whilst the club are keen to retain Vatuvei, knowing full well what he is capable of, the man nicknamed ‘The Beast’, has offers from several rival NRL clubs as well as from rugby union clubs in France and England.
Since making his debut for the club back in 2004 against the Rabbitohs, playing in 152 NRL games in that time, Vatuvei feels that the time is right to consider his options and do what is best for his family.
“It’s pretty hard,” said Vatuvei.”
“It’s just a case of finding what else is out there. It’s a good time in my career right now. I’m going on 27, so not long to go. If I was a bit younger I wouldn’t worry about it.
“My choice would be to stay but it’s also what is best for my family. If they want to move, I have to move because I don’t want to be somewhere where they aren’t happy.
“I have been here 10 years now. It’s tough but if the club is looking somewhere else I might have to move on. If I can play well, then hopefully I will be lucky.
I need to impress them as much as anyone else and hopefully they still think I have the goods and sign me up.”
As Matt Elliott gets accustomed to his new Warriors squad and decides as to who will play, the club is yet to formally approach Vatuvei with a new deal or offer, but club Chief Executive Wayne Scurrah said that the club is eager to retain the long-serving player.
“We think of him highly and always have,” Scurrah said. “We have already talked about Manu and he’s coming up to a testimonial year at the club. He still has a lot of rugby league ahead of him and is looking in great shape this season.
“We are looking at recruitment decisions now and mapping out where we want to be. We have a fair idea of what we want and what positions might need strengthening. Matt has been highly impressed with Manu and he is doing all the right things from the new coach’s point of view.”
When Manu opens his NRL account for 2013 in Rd 1, you can expect to see him lighter, with The Beast settling on a weight of 106kg, allowing more mobility in his arsenal, as well as allowing him to gain more upper body strength.
“I can tell the difference between 112kg and now,” he said.
“I’m more active now and can get around the field quicker and last a bit longer. I’m much fitter. But game fitness is different and that’s something I need to get back once we start playing.
“With my knees, it’s another bonus losing all that weight because it put a lot of stress on my knees being heavier. I think I’m getting a bit stronger, too. I just think I’m a bit hungrier to do better than I did last year.”