Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
It’s well known that Penrith would eventually have to face was that they simply would not be able to afford to keep the amazing squad that they have had over the past number of seasons, and it now seems the club is facing that reality, as the 2020 NRL minor premiers are set to lose their strike second-rower Viliame Kikau.
It was reported yesterday that the Penrith Panthers simply can not afford to re-sign Kikau at his current market value, and Panthers Chairman David O’Neil since coming out to essentially confirm that this is true.
Dean “Bulldog” Ritchie sat down with O’Neil for an interview that was released in the Daily Telegraph with Ritchie having this to say on NRL Tonight.
“Viliame Kikau is a story we’ve got on our website right now,” Ritchie said.
“At the moment he’s under contract for next year and that won’t change.
“I interviewed their chairman Dave O’Neill and he said it would be damn hard to keep him there.
“They’ve got a top-end roster full of star players on big money.
Viliame Kikau is set to be squeezed out of the Panthers, with Penrith unable to match the $900k offers rival clubs are willing to play
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) September 8, 2021
“Something has to give and if Viliame Kikau can secure $900,000 from a rival club then the Panthers are in no way able to match that offer.”
One rival club that right now would have to be the favourite to sign Kikau out of the other NRL clubs would be the St George Illawarra Dragons, who in mid-August were linked to the Fijian International in a multi-million dollar deal by the Australian’s Brent Read.
“St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin could yet land a devastating blow on his former club Penrith as the Dragons weigh up a multimillion-dollar move for Panthers backrower Viliame Kikau,” said Read in his report last month.
“As Griffin prepares to face his former side for the first time since his shock dismissal three years ago, The Australian can reveal that the Dragons are monitoring Kikau’s future as he edges towards the final year of his contract with Penrith.
“The Panthers are believed to be aware of St George Illawarra’s interest in the Fijian international and are understandably wary given Dylan Edwards, Api Koroisau and Moses Leota are less than three months away from heading to open market.
If the Dragons are keen on signing Kikau, hearing this admission from David O’Neil will certainly lead to them making a move for him shortly that we are bound to hear about.