Penrith Panthers sign Isaiah Papali’i in huge signing coup

The Penrith Panthers have put the disappointment of missing out on David Fifita’s signature behind them, signing outgoing Wests Tigers forward Isaiah Papali’i.

Penrith confirmed the move on Thursday morning, announcing Papali’i had agreed to terms to join the club on a three-year deal from the start of the 2025 season.

Panthers Rugby League CEO Matt Cameron described Papali’i, who started his career at the Warriors before stints at the Tigers and Eels, as a “world-class forward”.

Watch every game of every round this NRL Telstra Premiership Season LIVE with no ad-breaks during play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial today >

“We’re thrilled to have secured Isaiah’s services for the next three seasons,” Cameron said.

“Not only does Isaiah bring a wealth of experience and leadership capabilities to our club, but he’s also a world-class forward who has proven himself at the highest level.”

Panthers General Manager of Rugby League Shane Elford, meanwhile, said the club believes Papali’i will “thrive” with the three-time defending premiers.

“Isaiah is a talented player, displaying not only exceptional skills but also a great attitude and work ethic,” Elford said.

“We believe he will thrive in the Panthers system and we’re eager to see his continued career progression at our club.”

It comes after it was reported on Wednesday afternoon that Papali’i had been given permission to negotiate with rival clubs and effectively end his three-year contract one season early.

The 25-year-old was contracted with the Tigers until the end of 2025 on a deal worth $750,000 next season, according to News Corp.

The Panthers initially made an offer of around $850,000 a season for three years to try lure Fifita over to the foot of the mountains, only to miss out on his signature as the Gold Coast forward first agreed to terms with the Roosters before later deciding to stay at the Titans.

It still left Penrith with nearly $1 million in salary cap space over the next two years to bolster its roster following the impending departure of James Fisher-Harris to the Warriors.

The signing of Papali’i gives the Panthers a strike weapon on the edge, with the hope the 25-year-old will be able to rediscover the form that saw him named Dally M Second Rower of the Year in 2021.

Papali’i averaged 137 running metres to go with 108 tackle busts, seven linebreaks and seven tries in that season, his first with Parramatta.

Originally published as Panthers pounce on ‘world-class’ Tigers star Isaiah Papali’i after shock release

Leave a Comment

URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL