TRAVIS Waddell’s brief stint with the Newcastle Knights appears to be over after he attracted an offer from the New Zealand Warriors.
Waddell, who was released by Canberra at the end of last season, signed with Brisbane club Souths Logan but has been training with the Knights and played in their trial match against South Sydney last week.
Newcastle had proposed using the Aboriginal All Stars hooker as a stopgap, training with them once a month and coming into contention for a call-up if there was an injury crisis. But in the meantime the Warriors have shown concrete interest.
‘‘He’s got an offer to go to the Warriors,’’ Knights coach Wayne Bennett said yesterday.
‘‘That’s probably where he’ll finish up. I’m not totally sure. That’s a decision he’s got to make. He’s in the process now, I think.
‘‘We just haven’t moved our position. There’s not any bargaining going on, or a tussle for him.’’
Bennett was confident the Knights had ample depth to cover dummy-half, even with veteran Danny Buderus expected to miss the opening rounds of the season after recent back surgery.
Matt Hilder will start at rake in tonight’s hit-out against Cronulla at Tamworth, and Chris Adams will come off the bench to give him some respite.
Bennett also has the option of moving skipper Kurt Gidley to hooker, allowing him to bring on playmaker Tyrone Roberts, who scored two tries in the win against Souths.
‘‘I think we’ve all seen Kurt play enough at hooker to know that, if push comes to shove, he can do that job,’’ Bennett said.
‘‘All the indications are Danny will be back to play most of the season.’’
Bennett has stuck with the same starting line-up as last week but said there were vacancies that needed filling, especially on the bench.
‘‘That’s what they’re all fighting for,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s still one or two positions there I’m not really convinced about at the moment.’’
The coach said former NSW Origin winger James McManus, who has been recovering from a knee injury, would receive game time tonight in the second half.
‘‘We’ll give him a bit of a run and make sure everything’s fine and he should be fit to start the season,’’ Bennett said.
After complaining last week about the ruck-wrestling against Souths, Bennett said he had spoken to referees coach Daniel Anderson but was reluctant to divulge details.
‘‘I had a good conversation with Daniel,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s all I want to say on it.’’
AAP reports: Warriors coach Matthew Elliott is expecting more intensity from his players in their final pre-season match today against Brisbane in Dunedin.
The Warriors have lost trial matches against Gold Coast and Penrith and Elliott wants an improvement in their last hit-out before they play Parramatta on March 9.
‘‘We want to improve from game to game, and that applies to the Broncos,’’ he said.
‘‘They have a young, athletic, very physical team. They’ll be a good challenge and measuring stick for us.’’
Elliott, who is entering his first season with the Warriors, is excited by the challenge after their eight-win, 16-loss record last year.
‘‘A lot of guys had their first hit-out against Penrith and we are just in a bit of a process at the moment,’’ Elliott said.
‘‘We haven’t been too concerned about results.
‘‘The scoreboard [32-18] disappointed me last week, and it wasn’t the performance we were looking for, but we’ll improve.’’
Former Melbourne and Newcastle back-rower Todd Lowrie will make his debut and Jerome Ropati returns from injury.
Elliott is happy to have both on deck.
‘‘He [Lowrie] played for a premiership-winning side last year and he’s brought a lot of unity to our team as far as the style of game he has under his belt.
‘‘Jerome has come back from two serious knee injuries and this game is more about getting him back on the park again and letting him accumulate some confidence,’’ Elliott said.
Elliott said the Warriors had not set a goal for the season as they rebuild from a shaky 2012.
‘‘We’re going to prepare to win every game and let the results look after themselves,’’ he said.
‘‘It will be a tough season but, if you out-prepare your opposition, it gives you the best opportunity to win. Last year is not a reference point for me.’’
Pita Godinet has replaced the injured Alehana Mara on the bench for the Warriors.
Captain Sam Thaiday, who is coming back from shoulder surgery, will come off the bench for the Broncos.