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Wests Tigers enter race for Papali’i as he rejects Eels offer

30 Oct 21, 10:20AM 0 Comments

Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk

Photo by Getty Images

Isaiah Papali’i was arguably the buy of the year in 2021, after starting his career off at the New Zealand Warriors, the 23-year-old quietly made the move over to the Parramatta Eels last off season on a relatively cheap deal.

He would go on to make an impact instantly, standing out as the club’s best player for the majority of the season and capping his campaign off by being named the 2021 Dally M Second Rower of the Year.

Although, it has been no secret that the Eels have a plethora of talent off contract at the end of 2022, with Papali’i being one.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard will already be seeking pastures new and it seems Papali’i will be too as Michael Chammas from The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the Samoan and New Zealand International has rejected Parramatta’s latest offer, and that the Wests Tigers are firming as favourites for his services.

“Papali’i’s manager notified the club on Friday that his client has opted to formally reject their offer and instead hit the open market on November 1 when he is free to negotiate with rival teams,” said Chammas.

“The Wests Tigers have already indicated they would be in a position to make an offer. The Herald understands the Tigers, led by new director of football Tim Sheens, are willing to offer up to $600,000 to lure Papali’i away from the Eels in 2023.

“It comes as negotiations between the Tigers and Luciano Leilua’s manager have hit a roadblock. Leilua’s manager has been asking for in excess of $700,000 a season from the Tigers for the back-rower.

“However, club officials believe Papali’i, the reigning Dally M back-rower of the year, could be better value at around $550,000-$600,000 a year to play the same position.”

Papali’i would be a huge signing for the Tigers and prove valuable for the club, but Luciano Leilua would be a massive loss for Michael Maguire’s side.

There is no word as to where Leilua will end up yet, but we now know that there’s a good chance Isaiah Papali’i will be a Tiger in 2023.

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