“I’d like to thank everyone from the coaching staff and all the players to all the loyal fans that stuck with us/me through every hard time we had over the past 6 years.
“Excited/Nervous about what waits for me next at the Warriors. Nothing but love for the Bird Gang Brothers . #582 My Brotherhood will never be broken with you boys ofas kautamas. Family first in every decision I make.”
Fonua-Blake and fellow Sea Eagle Marty Taupau had formed one of the most lethal front-row combinations in the NRL.
The Tongan wrecking ball is a huge addition for incoming Warriors coach Nathan Brown. Fellow Tongan prop Ben Murdoch-Masila will also join the club next season.
Fonua-Blake still had two years to run on his Manly deal, but his sudden exit will free up some much-needed cash for the northern beaches club. The fierce front-rower was expected to pocked around $1.7m the remaining two years of his Sea Eagles deal.
Manly can now make a serious play for former favourite son Kieran Foran, who won a competition at the club and remains firm friends with star skipper Daly Cherry-Evans and coach Des Hasler.
Hasler was the man who pushed hard to sign Foran at Canterbury for three years.
Foran has been one of the Dogs’ only attacking threats when on the field this season, but the Belmore club told him they were not interested in his services for next year, and instead opted to go with 33-year-old Blake Green who is recovering from a ruptured ACL.
The Sea Eagles have a lot of faith in young playmaker Josh Schuster, but know he will learn plenty from an experienced international 30-year-old like Foran. You only have to look across town to Jarome Luai who spent an extra 12 months learning under James Maloney, and is now thriving because of Penrith’s patience not to rush him in such an important position.
Foran and Cherry-Evans being reunited would give Manly the most experienced halves pairing in the game.
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Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.