Wes Naiqama’s agent says the Newcastle Knights will need to increase their offer to retain the in-form utility back, who has attracted interest from rival clubs in the NRL and Super League.
Naiqama is off contract at the end of this season and until recently it appeared he would be a victim of an anticipated Wayne Bennett cleanout.
But his manager, Darryl Mather, revealed yesterday Newcastle had tabled a two-year contract extension that fell short of expectations.
Mather said he had not given up hope that the Knights would improve their offer for Naiqama, who joined Newcastle in 2008 and has since played in 63 NRL games for them.
In the meantime, he said Naiqama’s market value was “warming up” as rival clubs circled.
English club Huddersfield, coached by Nathan Brown, are one option. Brown has a close relationship with Naiqama from their days at the St George Illawarra Dragons and Mather said his client had a “very open mind” about pursuing a career overseas.
The Fijian Test captain, 28-year-old Naiqama is in career-best form.
He has played in every minute of Newcastle’s 11 games this season and is their leading point scorer with 44 from four tries and 14 goals.
He is versatile enough to play centre, wing, fullback and in the back row and is also an accomplished goalkicker.
But the Knights have already signed Timana Tahu from the Penrith Panthers and have been linked to Dragons fullback Darius Boyd, which may explain why Naiqama does not appear a priority.
That could change if Boyd, who is reportedly wavering about following Bennett to Newcastle next year, opts to stay with the Dragons.