Fullback Tim Moltzen is set to become the latest Wests Tigers player to leave the club after St George Illawarra targeted him as a potential replacement for Darius Boyd.
The Herald understands the Tigers will grant Moltzen a release from the final year of his contract, following the departures of Bryce Gibbs and Andrew Fifita to the Cronulla Sharks.
With Chris Heighington and Beau Ryan being strongly linked with Penrith as a package deal, the development surrounding Moltzen will only increase the speculation that there is significant player discontent at the Tigers.
Wests Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys said last night he had not released Moltzen. ”As far as I’m concerned, Tim is under contract with Wests Tigers for 2012,” he said.
That said, Moltzen has been the subject of speculation before, having been linked with both Cronulla and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. It is believed the Tigers would not stand in Moltzen’s way as they may baulk at re-signing him after 2012. The Dragons are understood to have offered Moltzen a three-year deal, giving him increased security, with their new 2012 coach, Steve Price, identifying him as a replacement for Boyd, who will join Wayne Bennett at Newcastle.
Moltzen has struggled to regain his best form after returning this year from a knee injury that ruled him out for the majority of last season. He was expected to stay with the Tigers following the departure of Wade McKinnon to Hull FC.
The anticipated loss of their other fullback option, Moltzen, will only increase the speculation that the Tigers are making a play for Canberra sensation Josh Dugan, even though Humphreys has repeatedly denied this. Moltzen’s release may have further repercussions. He lives with Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall, who along with his teammates is known to be concerned at the club’s decision to let incumbent players go.
Much of the movement at the club has been designed to accommodate Melbourne’s New Zealand Test forward, Adam Blair, who will sign with the club. But there has clearly been significant peripheral damage; players are unhappy, and Heighington and Ryan are believed to be ready to join the Panthers next year as a result of the disharmony.