Armed with a war chest of more than $1 million in salary cap space, the Wests Tigers remain ready to pounce in their search for a star outside back. But they’re not going to rushed into a impulse buy.
After being snubbed by Latrell Mitchell, the Tigers are expected to take their time instead of letting their enormous cash freedom burn a hole in their pocket.
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Mitchell is believed to have been offered around $1 million a season to play fullback for the Tigers, only to take less money with South Sydney. Tigers coach Michael Maguire is now expected to start the season with the reliable Corey Thompson in the No.1 jumper.
The Tigers currently have 27 spots filled in their NRL top 30 and will need to sign or promote two more players by March 1.
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They will likely keep one spot open until the June 30 deadline, when the market traditionally balloons with agitated players.
The wait-and-see strategy highlights a reluctance from the club to repeat past mistakes of hastily signing players on long-term deals.
Already they have been linked to Cronulla fullback Matt Moylan, Brisbane playmaker Anthony Milford, and former winger Josh Addo-Carr.
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The Kangaroos and NSW State of Origin star will be released from Melbourne to return to Sydney if the terms are right.
Reports linking South Sydney utility Adam Doueihi to the club are understood to be wide of the mark.
The Tigers are working on luring Parramatta young gun Stefano Utoikamanu early after signing him on a three-year-deal from 2021 to beef up their pack. The hulking teenage prop is currently on a development contract with the Eels. Should Utoikamanu be released, it would still leave the Tigers with significant cap space to spend on their backline heading into the 2020 season. However, if no one of interest becomes available, they have the freedom to “front load” player contracts for the upcoming seasons.
The Tigers are also weighing up the effects of a potential suspension for utility Josh Reynolds, with the NRL yet to make a decision over whether he will be stood down while facing domestic violence charges.
The 30-year-old has pleaded not guilty to a charge relating to an alleged domestic violence incident, but could be stood down until his next court hearing in July at the NRL’s discretion.
The Tigers are eager to keep their options open should Reynolds be suspended and they need to buy a replacement.