The relationship between Michael Maguire and Brandon Smith could help bring the premiership winner to Wests Tigers after the club confirmed their interest on Friday.
Maguire has coached Smith at international level with the Kiwis since 2018 and backed the 24-year-old to excel as a starting hooker at any club he went to.
It comes after the Storm confirmed Smith would be released from his contract for 2022 as he chases a starting No.9 spot at a rival NRL club.
On Friday Maguire said the Tigers would look at any available player who would improve the team and Smith undoubtably falls into that category of recruitment.
“He’s a very good hooker,” Maguire said.
“I’ve got a lot of time for the way he plays the game and he’s played a different role down there (at the Storm) because of the circumstances, but in the time that he’s been with myself at the Kiwis, he’s been excellent.
“He’s one of those players that everyone loves to play with but his craft around that space, he’s very smart.”
Smith could be a perfect fit at the Tigers after the club was forced to return Harry Grant to the Storm at the end of the season after his breakout year.
Grant and Smith are expected to share the hooking role at the Storm in 2021 should skipper Cameron Smith confirm as expected that he won’t play on in Melbourne next year.
Meanwhile, Maguire’s contract was extended with the Tigers on Thursday, which will keep in charge of the club until the end of 2023.
With his deal confirmed, his next priority is building the success-starved club towards a long-awaited finals appearance in 2021.
Already the Tigers have added James Roberts, Joe Ofahenague and James Tamou to the squad and hope to finalise an extension for club favourite David Nofoaluma before Christmas.
Maguire has worked with the troubled Roberts at South Sydney previously and has backed the former NSW Origin centre to recapture his best at the Tigers.
“It’s up to James,” Maguire said.
“He knows what he needs to do and he’s in a good place at the moment.
“It’s everything around him that we need to make sure for James’ sake, that he gets right, so that when he plays his footy … we all know how he can play and the quality of player he is.
“I’m fortunate that I’ve known Jimmy for quite some time.
“He’s a good kid, he’s a great fella and I know if he gets his mind right he can do anything in the game.”