The Warriors have confirmed one of the NRL’s worst-kept secrets, announcing the immediate release of out-of-favour centre Solomone Kata to take up a contract with Melbourne before the June 30 transfer deadline.
The 24-year-old, who scored a try for Mate Ma’a Tonga in Saturday’s loss to New Zealand at Mt Smart, has been languishing in reserve grade since Round 7. He publicly rubbished chatter around his potential Storm shift last week.
“Sol has played a lot of football in all grades since joining the club but after being an NRL regular over the last few seasons he has been in reserve grade (Canterbury Cup NSW) recently,” Warriors general manager football Brian Smith said.
“With limited NRL opportunities he was keen to look at other avenues and asked for a release after Melbourne showed interest in him.
“He goes with our best wishes and we thank him for his contribution to the Vodafone Warriors.”
Tonga-born Kata won the Jack Gibson Medal as best on ground in the Warriors’ 2014 NYC grand final triumph, scoring a memorable hat-trick. He made his NRL debut in the opening round of 2015 and was virtually a first-choice pick for the next four seasons.
Kata was the Warriors’ top try-scorer in 2015 (12 tries in 24 games) and 2016 (15 tries in 21 games), playing five Tests for New Zealand in the latter season.
After a 2017 campaign hampered by injury and family tragedy, the nuggetty three-quarter bagged 12 tries during the Warriors’ 2018 resurgence but a perceived reluctance to feed his winger, Ken Maumalo, made him a popular target for fan derision.
He came into 2019 with more NRL appearances for the Warriors than any other squad member, but the Round 6 encounter with North Queensland – another disappointing showing for Kata in a run of poor form – would be his 93rd and last for the club in the top flight. Rookie Patrick Herbert has been preferred since.
Kata’s 46 tries place him 10th in the Warriors’ history.
He will provide outside-back depth for the Storm, who have been scouring the NRL ranks following Curtis Scott’s long-term injury suffered during Magic Round. Marion Seve has partnered Will Chambers in the centres in their past four games.
Melbourne also confirmed the pick-up of Gold Coast forward Max King and the release of boom fullback Scott Drinkwater to the Cowboys.
Three big signings 👀⚡️
— Melbourne Storm (@storm) June 24, 2019
The Warriors have reportedly added to their squad before June 30 with the acquisition of Sydney Roosters back-rower Joshua Curran, who only turned 20 earlier this month, on a two-and-half-year deal.
A NSW Under-18s rep, the strapping Curran has played 23 ISP/Canterbury Cup games for Roosters feeder clubs Wyong and North Sydney over the past two seasons, and made a 13-minute NRL debut in the Roosters’ epic golden point win over the Storm in Round 6.