NRL 2024: Isaiah Papali’i set to leave Wests Tigers at end of season, transfer whispers, news, latest,

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Tigers star Isaiah Papali’i will reportedly leave the club at the end of this season, with News Corp reporting the New Zealand international has been granted permission to end his three-year contract a year early.

The 25-year-old is contracted until the end of 2025 on a deal reportedly worth $650,000 per year, but news of the gun back-rower’s availability has sparked intense interest among rival clubs.

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His signing by the Wests Tigers at the end of the 2022 campaign was touted as a marquee signing by his former NZ coach Michael Maguire, who was sacked by the Tigers before Papali’i arrived. But in his 32 games since then, he hasn’t managed to produce the kind of elite impact he delivered in two seasons at the Eels.

It is another blow for Benji Marshall at the struggling joint-venture club which has slid to seven consecutive defeats, though his exit will free up plenty of salary cap space for Marshall to rebuild the roster.

The Sydney Roosters have reportedly given permission to both Angus Crichton and Sitili Tupouniua to explore a potential exit – and could chase the Tigers star as a possible replacement, while the Panthers could look to Papali’i after missing out on David Fifita, who snubbed the Roosters and Penrith in a shock backflip to remain on the Gold Coast.

The Panthers will lose triple Premiership-winning prop James Fisher-Harris to the Warriors next season, leaving them short of forward weaponry.

Fisher-Harris today explained his decision to return to New Zealand, saying on The League Of Our Own podcast: “It’s a bit about family, but at the same time, I trust Webby [Warriors coach Andrew Webster], he was a big one.

“And bro, there’s no other place I’d go, I don’t like any other team with a passion. I’ve said this from the start, the only other place I’ll go is home.”

Another intriguing back-rower available to NRL clubs next season is Kai O’Donnell, with The Yorkshire Examiner reporting the former Canberra Raiders youngster has activated an NRL release clause to return to Australia.

The Leigh Leopards star guided them to promotion to the Super League last season and also scored a try as they won the Challenge Cup in 2023.

He played four NRL games for the Raiders before joining Leigh ahead of their 2022 season, but his development over two years in England should spark greater interest among NRL teams.

Originally published as Tigers bombshell as Isaiah Papali’i set to spark NRL bidding war with early exit

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