The St George Illawarra Dragons appear close to winning a tug-of-war with the Newcastle Knights over Wes Naiqama because they can guarantee him a starting position next season.
The Knights were hopeful that Naiqama would agree yesterday to a two-year contract extension.
But instead his management postponed a decision to allow the Fijian Test captain time to consider the Dragons’ offer.
Naiqama’s agent, Darryl Mather, revealed Naiqama was agonising over the two deals, primarily because he was unsure where new coach Wayne Bennett was planning to play him next season.
Naiqama’s preferred positions are right centre and fullback, but the Knights have already signed Darius Boyd and Timana Tahu to handle those roles.
Mather said that conversely the 2010 premiers had ‘‘guaranteed’’ Naiqama he would play fullback, the position that Boyd will vacate at the end of the season.
Mather also said the St George Illawarra deal was more lucrative.
A decision is expected this week.
Naiqama launched his NRL career with the Dragons in 2005 and played in 38 top-grade games before joining the Knights in 2008.
The 28-year-old is happily settled in Newcastle, but he is long-term friends with Dragons veterans Ben Hornby, Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper and on good terms with incoming coach Steve Price.