Ben Te'o is almost certain to leave South Sydney after the Warriors joined the French rugby clubs chasing his services with an offer worth $650,000 a season.
Te'o is officially a free agent after he declined to take up an option in his contract for a third year at the Rabbitohs next year. The Queensland Origin forward has told teammates he won't be staying and that he is likely to sign with a French rugby club.
Departing: Ben Te'o will be leaving Souths at the end of the season. Photo: Getty Images
However, the Warriors' offer could be a wildcard after the Broncos – the team Te'o faces at Suncorp Stadium on Anzac Day – all but ruled out a return.
Asked if he was keen on luring Te'o back to the Broncos, coach Anthony Griffin said: "If he's available. He's going to play rugby union isn't he?
"I don't know if we'd be able to afford [him] compared to what they're offering in rugby. That's why they're going there isn't it?
"He does have all the tools. He's progressed very well, he's playing Origin now and is doing a very good job for them. He is a quality player and someone we will have to keep an eye on."
Souths have already made contingency plans, signing Manly back-rower Glenn Stewart. The Rabbitohs have also secured Penrith prop Tim Grant as a replacement for rugby-bound Sam Burgess.
However, another concern is the future of Chris McQueen. While McQueen is contracted to the Bunnies until the end of 2015, it is understood he is unhappy with his $165,000 deal, considered ''unders'' for a player involved in all three State of Origin matches for the Maroons last year.
The Rabbitohs have also been linked with Melbourne's Mitch Garbutt and North Queensland's Tariq Sims, although the latter would require a release from the Cowboys before exploring his options.
While the Warriors are throwing huge money at Te'o, this wasn't always the case. Born in Auckland, Te'o was in the Warriors system, but was sacked by the club when he was injured. Rather than pay him the $3000 scholarship money he was owed, the club offered him only a Puma training kit as severance pay.
"I was on a little contract, and that was meant to be my gas money," Te'o told Fairfax Media in 2007.
"All that travelling had been tough for my family and they turned around and said, 'we can't give you your money now, how about some Puma gear?' I just had to take it and try to sell some of it.
"I just made it part of my determination to try to make it, what happened with the Warriors. It's not easy, and where I have come from, I know I have to work hard for it. They didn't do me any favours."
Recruiting Te'o will cost more than it would to have retained him. After parting ways with the Warriors, the 27-year-old has established himself as one of the game's best back-rowers during stints with the Tigers, Broncos and Rabbitohs. After representing Samoa in 2008 he has been involved in the past two Origin series.
While the Warriors' offer is a lucrative one, he can earn more money still if he shifts to the 15-man code in France.
Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah declined to comment.
"He's one of the best players in the game and we have to contain him," Griffin said of Te'o on the eve of the Souths-Broncos clash.
"He's a great player, Ben. He's got a great carry in him with the ball, he runs a great line on the edge, he's a strong defender, so he fits the mix of their team really well."