The first major signatures for 2023 and beyond are yet to fall, but it would appear Penrith star Viliame Kikau will be one of the first.
Kikau has been linked in each and every direction over the past six months.
Kikau originally trashed the Dragons' rumours, however, has, concerningly for Penrith fans at least, gone quiet on recent rumours of his departure from the foot of the mountains.
The Daily Telegraph are reporting that the Bulldogs have beaten the Cowboys for Kikau's services from 2023 though, signing him to what is believed to be a four-year deal worth around $800,000 per season.
He will play for the Panthers in 2022 before linking up with the Bulldogs. The new deal will reportedly see Kikau remain at Belmore until the end of the 2026 season.
The rumoured signing is intriguing given the Bulldogs' reported problems with the salary cap. They have already signed ten new players for 2022 and beyond, including the likes of Josh Addo-Carr and Tevita Pangai Junior on what is believed to be mega money.
— Roast (@thenrlroast) November 19, 2021
Kikau's rumoured $800,000 deal will put further strain on that salary cap for seasons to come.
The Fijian was slightly underwhelming in 2021, but his talent is undoubted, and he is known to have a good relationship with Bulldogs' coach Trent Barrett, while he also dealt with Phil Gould during his time at the Panthers.
The Bulldogs have also been linked with hooker Reed Mahoney, who they are rumoured to have tabled an offer of around $600,000 for over a similar time period, starting from the 2023 season.
It remains to be seen how signing Kikau on such a big deal impacts their ability to sign the fringe State of Origin player however, with the salary cap constraints still biting the rebuilding club.
The 26-year-old has played 98 games for the Panthers since his 2017 debut.