Former New Zealand international Frank Paul Nu’uausala is considering quitting glamour English Super League club Wigan to play with Western Suburbs in the Newcastle Rugby League premiership next season.
In what would be a stunning coup for Wests and the domestic competition if they manage to pull it off, Rosellas coach Matt Lantry confirmed the club is in negotiations with the former Sydney Roosters and Canberra enforcer, who played 15 Tests for the Kiwis.
The sticking point is he is contracted to Wigan for the next two seasons and will need to gain a release from the Super League club.
“It is by no means over the line and there is a bit to do to make it happen but there is certainly a chance he could play with us,”Lantry said.
“He has to work through a few things at Wigan with his existing contract but he wants to return to Australia and a signing like him would be huge for us.
“We probably missed a bit of an x-factor in the pack when we fell just short [of a premiership] last season and have been chasing a good, aggressive middle forward. He certainly more than fits that bill.”
It is understood Nu’uausala 30, is close mates with ex-Knights and Cronulla forward Mark Taufua, who is the Rosellas captain, and the pair have been in close contact in recent weeks over a potential move.
There is also a strong family connection with his wife from the Newcastle area.
Lantry revealed the club has signed former South Newcastle and Newcastle Rebels forward Beau Simpson but have lost prop Uti Baker to Queensland Cup side Souths Logan.
Meanwhile, wooden spooners Kurri have been active on the recruitment front, signing former Wests premiership-winning halfback Jade Porter, ex-Cessnock and Newcastle Rebels captain Sam Wooden, who spent last season with Group 10 club Mudgee, and Maitland Blacks rugby outside back Jono Maloney.
The Bulldogs are also hopeful of signing former Macquarie and Country backrower Josh Schmiedel, who won a premiership in Group 21 last season with Aberdeen and have been in negotiations with former Knights and Wests grandfinal hooker Chad Redman.
“I’ve had a meeting with Chad and he would obviously be a great pick-up for us,”Kurri coach Ron Griffiths said.
“I’d like to think we are a good chance but it is far from being done yet.
Redman and the Rosellas have already parted company, with Wests signing Oliver Powell from Cessnock to bolster their hooking stocks.
“We’ve got Chris Knight, Liam McKenna and now Oliver Powell from Cessnock so there is plenty of cover there,”Lantry said.
“It should be a good battle between the three of them to wear the number 9 jumper.”
Former Knights, Canberra and Wests Tigers forward Joel Edwards is believed to be close to making a decision on his future.
Lakes United, Kurri and Maitland are understood to be the three local clubs vying for his signature.