A report suggesting Russell Packer could be making a return to the Warriors on loan from the Tigers has been quashed by the injury-plagued Kiwi this morning – and the chances of seeing Ben Murdoch-Masila aren’t much better.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported last night the Warriors were potentially looking to solve their middle forwards injury crisis by getting Packer on loan from the Tigers as he is likely to miss their gameday 17.
But Warriors recruitment boss Peter O’Sullivan said outright that 30-year-old Packer – who hasn’t played in 16 months – isn’t on their radar, not for now at least.
"He would be very underprepared…In a perfect world Packer would be ideal, but we'll look to the Tigers to get him ready and if he's still available in three or four weeks we'll look at it then," O'Sullivan told Newstalk ZB.
O'Sullivan added rival NRL clubs are having trouble getting their heads around a player loan deal, even though it has benefits and no downsides for them.
"It's a no-brainer, to get their number five or six prop a bit of game time," he said.
"I've got no doubt [we will get a player] in a matter of days rather than weeks. We've got some irons in the fire."
The Warriors have suffered multiple injuries ahead of the NRL’s restart, with injuries to front line forwards Leeson Ah Mau, Jazz Tevaga, Bunty Afoa and Jackson Frei causing them severe headaches and in need of loan players to fill the void.
One player on the Warriors’ radar is Murdoch-Masila, although landing him before he officially joins the club in 2021 is looking remote at best.
With the UK’s Super League on hold because of Covid-19, Murdoch-Masila came out and said he’d happily join the Warriors on loan if his club, Warrington, allowed it.
But O’Sullivan said the timeline just doesn’t support such a move.
"It doesn't look like they will get back on the field until August," O'Sullivan said.
"It is a bit of wait and see. Each week that goes by makes it less and less attractive for us.
"He will have to come home, isolate, get enough time in the legs to prepare for an NRL game. Even if he got on the plane tomorrow, it would be the best part of six weeks before he could play."
One of the first to put their hand up and offer their services was retired Sharks great Paul Gallen, although O’Sullivan said that was never really an option for them as well.
"He's 39, and we've got young players who back themselves," said O'Sullivan.
"It was a good story and created a bit of a distraction as well."
O’Sullivan did add the club was grateful to Gallen for offering his services, though.
With all those options exercised, the Warriors will most likely instead look to their new signing in Canberra forward Jack Murchie, who can play as a middle forward.