If Warriors chief Jim Doyle could sign any NRL player at any time, Kiwi star Kieran Foran would be right at the top of his list.
And on Thursday evening, the former NRL chief operating officer finally got his man.
Foran, 26, has signed a one-year deal with the NRL club to complete an all-Kiwi 2017 spine alongside fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, halfback Shaun Johnson and hooker Issac Luke.
The contract is yet to be ratified by the NRL, who are thought to want further assurances on Foran’s mental condition after struggling with personal demons throughout 2016.
The five-eighth was granted a release from a lucrative deal with the Eels in July after checking into a Brisbane rehabilitation clinic for professional help.
The governing body are also suggested to want more information on Foran’s relationship with controversial Sydney-based punter Eddie Hayson.
Doyle told reporters on Friday that Foran, who lived in Auckland until aged 10, would have all of the club’s resources at his disposal to get back to his best.
Those resources included access to mental skills coaches, psychologists, mentors and Auckland-based family members such as godfather Don MacKinnon.
His drive, leadership and on-field professionalism made him an ideal candidate to fill the shoes of departing five-eighth Thomas Leuluai.
“He makes other people around him stand up and be accountable and be better,” Doyle said.
“He’s obviously had a little bit of a dark time but we’ll get him back to where he needs to be.”
Doyle said Foran, who will arrive in Auckland in late October for the start of pre-season, was happy to tick any boxes with the NRL that they deemed necessary.
The premiership-winning No.6 understood he would need to iron out several issues.
He would also have to demonstrate his physical fitness after suffering a major shoulder injury with the Eels before his departure.
“They’ll assess what happened and if he got himself into a position, they’ll want to know he’s progressing out of that,” Doyle said.
“I’ve spoken to him regularly and I’ve seen a change in him myself in the last few weeks.”
The addition of a proven match-winner such as Foran will serve as a boon to Warriors fans after a 2016 marred by inconsistency and listlessness.
Doyle denied his club’s new all-Kiwi spine turned up the pressure to snare a maiden premiership, saying his first priority was to build a devoted playing group.
The results would then take care of themselves.
“It’s about making sure we live up to the expectations,” Doyle said.
“We want a team that, every week, whether they win or not, we’re proud of.”
Foran said on Thursday he’d rediscovered his passion for the game after several rough months.
“Initially, footy was the furthest thing from my mind and I needed time away from the game,” Foran said.
“More recently, the desire to play again has completely returned and I’m very keen to make a big contribution.”
Foran, who reportedly turned down the Bulldogs and Dragons to cross the ditch, is thought to be on a deal worth $600,000.