The Warriors have added South Sydney star Issac Luke and Melbourne veteran Ryan Hoffman to their wish list as their search for marquee signings continues.
The club has money to spend after Kevin Locke was released to take up a three-year deal with Super League side Salford. The Warriors have been aggressively pursuing big-name players in recent months with Queensland and Souths forward Ben Te'o and Manly and New Zealand internationals Steve Matai and Peta Hiku also in their sights.
Hiku knocked back their more lucrative offer to remain with the Sea Eagles. Undeterred, the Warriors continue to target marquee men in a bid to climb back into premiership contention. Luke is contracted to the Rabbitohs until the end of next year but the New Zealand franchise is keen to prise him out of Redfern before then. Souths recently opened negotiations with their back-up hooker Apisai Koroisau, who is a free agent at the end of the year.
Luke has played 29 Tests for the Kiwis and is considered one of the best dummy halves in the game, but has been hampered by injuries.
Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah said the club had not had formal discussions with Luke because he is not off-contract, but recognised he was an ''international player, a top player''. Their current hooker, Nathan Friend, is off-contract at the end of this year.
While Scurrah declined to comment on the Warriors' interest in Hoffman, they are prepared to pay top dollar and talks have progressed with his management. The 30-year-old would have added to his tally of eight State of Origin appearances for NSW if not for a stint with English club Wigan. He remains a contender to face the Maroons for the Origin opener this year.
The Storm are keen to keep Hoffman but won't be able to compete with the money on offer abroad.
However, instability at the Warriors could count against the club. The owners remain at war, there is uncertainty over whether coach Andrew McFadden is just a fill-in solution until the end of the year, and Scurrah has threatened to walk if McFadden can't steer the team into the play-offs. There is also uncertainty over the future of centre Konrad Hurrell, with rival clubs circling should he be granted a release.
Locke's destiny seemed set the moment Sam Tomkins arrived to play fullback. ''I'm pretty shocked really, pretty surprised,'' halfback Shaun Johnson said of Locke's release. ''We sort of all knew something was going to happen. He doesn't belong in reserve grade … but I'm surprised he didn't go to another NRL club.''