Eels star Isaiah Papalii’s push to back out of his $1.9 million Tigers deal has taken a new turn with reports that he is also moving to return to the Warriors.
Papalii raised concerns over the Tigers’ deal after firing Michael Maguire, while the Eels increased their offer to retain his services, but a return to the Warriors is the latest development in the contract saga.
Bright Anastas on NRL 360: “Isaiah Papalii has signed a contract with Michael Maguire.
Stream every game of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership season live and ad-break free when you play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
“There is speculation that he will go or stop. It was not convincing.
Paul Kent believes the link back to the Warriors is a sign that Papalii is trying to make sure he doesn’t end up at the Tigers at all costs.
“He was unconvincing,” Kent said.
“At the beginning of the year he wanted to stay at Parramatta, not only did he float it, but now he’s looking at a return to the Warriors, which is exciting.”
However, The Daily Telegraph’s Dave Riccio believes his relationship with the Warriors negates the reason he wanted to back the Tigers in the first place.
This will not happen because the only reason the fighter Papalii can get out of his contract is the club that will give him a place, which is for personal reasons as his girlfriend still lives in New York. Zeeland,” Riccio said.
More NRL news
‘Engineered’: NRL accuses Ricky of ‘serious’ suspension.
‘Not at our club’: Payne says he doesn’t want Thurston in GF feud
Team analysis: Broncos back line shakes up; Knights remember executive
Banned: NRL extends Ricky’s ban, fines coach $25k for salmon blast
“That is not the reason why he wants to leave the Tigers. The reason he wants to leave the Tigers is because he wants to stay at Parramatta.
“The anger . . . Not going home to the Warriors and New Zealand. It’s about staying at Parramatta.”
However, Kent believes that if the Warriors can meet his financial needs, he could return to the Warriors for family reasons and leave both the Eels and Tigers in the lurch.
“True, but what if the warriors come in late now?” Kent asked.
“Or not going to the Tigers?”
Get all the latest NRL news, highlights and analysis straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Register now!!
Paul Crowley believes Papalii has himself to blame for signing with the Tigers, who have a history of sacking coaches.
“If there’s any anxiety, it has to be with himself and his leadership,” Crowley said.
“He signed with the Tigers. He signed with a club that changes coaches almost every year.
“He took a big gift. Yes, Michael Maguire was the manager but the Tigers have been through four managers in the last 10 years. It shouldn’t be a big surprise.
“The Tigers have to stand their ground on this.”
However, as Paul Kent and Bright Anastas said, sometimes the manager is the main reason players sign with clubs.
“Players sign with coaches,” Kent said.
Anasta said: “My point of view is different because when I first heard about this, I thought that he should not honor the contract.
“Then I thought about it myself and I was in a very similar situation.
“It was the Tigers, but it could have been any club where I signed and Tim Sheens was the manager.
“He signed me for a reason. He wanted something from me in terms of leadership and direction and he took a few players and sold them to me.
He was a coach and an Australian coach and I wanted to play under Tim Sheens. That’s what I signed up for. The only reason I signed up.
“Then a few weeks later he was fired. I honored the contract, but looking back now I think it was a bad decision on my part.
“If I finished my time it would be good for me and the club because it would have been good for me not to go there because it wasn’t right.
“I would have taken a hit on the pipe, which is one thing, but I mean, if he didn’t want to go there, and he went there only because he wanted a coach to play his role in that team.
“Sometimes motivation is only because of the coach.
But if he brings in the Warriors that will upset him because to me he’s just saying he doesn’t want to go to the Tigers.
Kent believes the Tigers are breaching Michael Maguire’s contract when they sack him.
“When the Tigers signed him[Papali]they had Michael Maguire as their contracted coach,” Kent said.
“They are happy to fire Maguire and terminate his contract, which violates any contract or understanding with Papalii.”
Regardless, Kent believes Papalii’s failure to fully commit to the Tigers means the club must act quickly to protect its own interests.
“Even yesterday he was speaking and he wasn’t very adamant and at one point he said, ‘Look, I’m just going to wait until November and I’ll deal with it then,'” Kent said.
“Now Tigers have the right to say wait, you have to know what’s going on.
“They have a salary cap to manage. You can’t just sit there and wait for this guy until November.”
Riccio believes the Tigers are not committed to a new vision for the club under Tim Sheens and Benji Marshall, so they are better off cutting their losses with Papalii.
“That’s why the Tigers need to go ahead and take advantage of Papali’s money now before it’s too late,” Riccio said.
“If you wait until November, you will not be able to use the money.
“The Tigers are at a pivotal point in their history. This is a change for the Wests Tigers club under Tim Sheens and future under Benji Marshall.
“What do we stand for? What is our culture? Who do we want here? That’s all I’ve heard of what it’s like under Shanes and Marshall. We are looking for players who want to represent the Wests Tigers and want to be there.
“Did we hear Isaiah Papalii say he can’t wait to get to Wests Tigers?”