Isaiah Papali’i to leave Wests Tigers at end of season, transfer rumors, news, latest

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

The 25-year-old is under contract until the end of 2025 with a deal worth $750,000 next season according to News Corp, but news of the defender’s availability has already sparked intense interest from rival clubs.

The report claims Papali’i was formally given permission to leave the club more than a month ago.

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His move to the Wests Tigers at the end of the 2022 campaign was touted as a marquee signing by his former New Zealand coach Michael Maguire, who was sacked by the Tigers before Papali’i arrived. But in his 32 games since then, he has failed to produce the kind of elite impact he achieved in two seasons at the Eels.

It’s another blow for Benji Marshall at the struggling joint venture club that has fallen to seven straight losses, although his departure will free up plenty of cap space for Marshall to rebuild the roster.

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

The Panthers will lose three-time Premiership-winning prop James Fisher-Harris to the Warriors next season, leaving them without advanced weapons.

Fisher-Harris today explained her decision to return to New Zealand, saying in The Own league podcast: “It’s a bit about family, but at the same time I trust Webby (Warriors coach Andrew Webster), he was one of the greats.

“And brother, there is no other place I would go, I don’t like any other team with passion. “I’ve said this from the beginning, the only other place I’ll go is home.”

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

The Leigh Leopards star guided them to promotion to Super League last season and also scored a try to win 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 further interest among NRL teams.