SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 06: Martin Taupau of the Sea Eagles is sent to the sin bin after a high hit on Raymond Stone of the Eels during the round 25 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Manly Sea Eagles at Bankwest Stadium on September 06, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Martin Taupau could have been suiting up for his first NRL Grand Final this weekend, clad in blue-and-gold and on the verge of breaking a 36-year hoodoo - if it hadn't been for Des Hasler.

The Kiwi international played 156 of his 222 NRL games at the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, becoming the club's enforcer after joining from the Wests Tigers in 2017, until he was informed that he wouldn't be retained by Manly past 2022.

The 32 year-old needed his future sorted when Parramatta came knocking earlier this season, desperate to secure an experienced, aggressive front-rower before the August 1 cut-off date.

While David Klemmer refused to leave the Newcastle Knights despite the club allowing him to depart if he'd chosen so, Taupau was the next man on Brad Arthur's hit list.

And had things gone Taupau's way, he'd be wearing Nathan Brown's jersey against the Penrith Panthers on Sunday night.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 19: Martin Taupau of the Manly Sea Eagles runs during the round 11 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Sea Eagles at AAMI Park on May 19, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

While the unsigned international has his focus set on playing for Samoa at the Rugby League World Cup in a matter of weeks, Taupau admitted that Hasler had denied his request to leave Manly midseason - twice.

“It's always the what-if, but it is sad because it could have been a possibility I was playing tomorrow (Sunday) night,” Taupau told The Sun-Herald.

“It was only a reality for a small amount of time, but that window of opportunity was closed by Manly.

“I could have asked for a release via text message or phone call, but that's not who I am. I went on two occasions to ask Des for a release. Unfortunately, it wasn't granted.

“Des had his reasons. Obviously you get frustrated when people don't meet you where you're at with your journey.

“It was more frustrating with how it unravelled. I went to ask the club around the same time there was the rainbow jersey [issue], then I had a family member die suddenly and I had to go to Melbourne [for the funeral].

“But Des and I are big believers in things happening for a reason. In my mind I was ready for anything. Parramatta were due to play against Manly, and I was prepared to wear the blue and gold jersey. It's my job.”

Taupau is reportedly closing in on a contract with an undisclosed NRL club for the 2023 season, with the Wests Tigers and South Sydney touted as suitors earlier in the season.