Warrington ‘actively looking for replacement’ as forward departure to NRL confirmed

James Gordon
Thomas Mikaele, PA Images

Picture by Danny Lawson/PA Wire/PA Images.

Warrington have confirmed they are actively in the market looking for a replacement for forward Thomas Mikaele, after his departure was confirmed.

Mikaele, 25, will make his final appearance for the Wolves this weekend against Hull FC at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

It was reported earlier this week that he was set to leave and the club have now granted permission for him to leave on “compassionate grounds”.

NRL side Gold Coast Titans have agreed an undisclosed fee to sign Mikaele for the rest of the season.

Wolves CEO Karl Fitzpatrick said: “Although we are disappointed to lose Thomas we fully understand and respect that he, Jasmine and the children need to return home and receive support from their wider family. Everyone at the club wishes Thomas and the family well for their future.”

Family comes first

Mikaele has enjoyed an excellent start to the season in a dominant Wolves pack that has helped them to win six from six.

Starting at prop in all six games, Mikaele has scored three tries, including one in the 38-0 win over Castleford last Friday.

He joined the club from Wests Tigers midway through last season, and departs Warrington having made 17 appearances for the club, with him expected to make that 18 in front of the Channel 4 TV cameras on Saturday.

In a statement, Mikaele said: “I’ve had a wonderful time since coming over here, the boys, the club and the fans have all been great with me and my family. I’m sorry it didn’t work out as originally planned but family comes first for me and I’m sure that’s something that people can understand.”

The blow of Mikaele’s departure will be somewhat softened by the scheduled return to action of Australian forward Josh McGuire, who will complete his seven-match suspension this weekend.

McGuire, 33, is yet to make his Wolves debut having been banned for an incident during the pre-season win over Leigh Leopards.

Fellow off-season recruit Gil Dudson only made his first appearance of the season in the win at Castleford, as Warrington’s embarrassment of riches in the pack became evident.

That will be tested again now by Mikaele’s departure, as well as an injury to prop James Harrison.

Warrington have revealed in a statement that they are actively working towards bringing in a replacement for Mikaele, with his departure also freeing up a valuable quota spot.

Holbrook thrilled with signing

Auckland-born forward Mikaele previously played 66 games in the NRL with Wests.

Titans coach, former St Helens boss Justin Holbrook, said: “We’re thrilled that Thomas has agreed to join us and that he will return to again play footy here on the Coast.

“If you’ve seen any of the Super League this season, you’ll know that he is one of the form forwards in the competition and has been playing some great football with Warrington.

“Having a player of Thomas’ skill and experience to bolster our middle forward stocks is a great result for the club and we know that he will have a big impact for us this season.”

Warrington may now have to look to Australia for a replacement for Mikaele, though there has been some suggestion they may take the opportunity to strengthen in other areas.

The market is typically tricky at this time of season, with many clubs reluctant to allow players to move on until they have found replacements of their own.

Coach Daryl Powell said earlier in the week that they wouldn’t be rushed in to bringing someone in for the sake of it, and that it would need to be the right player to enhance the group.

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