Speculation surrounding the future of Penrith's beast second-rower Viliame Kikau is sure to grow as soon as the 2021 NRL Grand Final concludes on Sunday night.
Kikau is off-contract at the conclusion of the 2022 season, meaning that he can begin negotiating with rival clubs from November 1, but interest from Rugby clubs could see the star forward begin discussions earlier than the deadline.
According to Wide World Of Sports The Mole, Kikau has told those close to him that he could never play against his Panthers, meaning a code switch or extension are the likely two options for the Fiji star despite interest from as many as 12 clubs.
If he were to stay at Penrith he would likely remain at the foot of the mountains on a wage south of what he could gain elsewhere, while a stronger pay-day would be more likely to come from the 15-a-side format.
His agent George Christodoulou has made it known that his client is seeking upwards of $800,000 per season for his new deal and even floated the idea that Kikau could attract offers at the million-dollar mark.
“For me, I’m saying it has to be upwards of $800,000, but his price could go to $1 million,” Christodoulou said.
“If the Titans paid seven figures for David Fifita, someone might fall in love with Kiks and pay that too. He is 26. If someone wants to throw bucketloads, you have to take it. It’s so cutthroat in the NRL these days.
“Penrith are keen to re-sign him, but whether it’s enough to get him done or not remains to be seen.
"‘Kicks’ is currently earning $700,000 and is set for a $50,000 bump next season, which places significant stress on the Panthers salary cap as pressure grows to continue re-signing their collection of stars.”
Penrith have already locked down James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota for the future but still need to secure the services of Dylan Edwards and Api Koroisau for the future. Meaning that the Panthers could lose their game-wrecker depart in order to retain further key names.
While the Cowboys have been heavily linked to ‘Bill’, they're not believed to offer such an exorbitant amount of money to secure his services, which begs the question of who is willing to offer such a large contract to the star?
When factoring this question into the financial and emotional equation posited above, the code switch firms as a desirable option. Furthering the validity of Kikau's potential move is the fact that his agent also represents Semi Radrada and facilitated the code switch for him years prior.
With the move, Kikau would also be much more likely to secure his dream compensation of a million a season, which is a more realistic target when accounting for the spending habits of union franchises in France and Japan. Not to mention that these clubs can talk to the Penrith star without restrictions as they have no affiliation with the NRL.
While time will tell whether Kikau will make an immediate jump or play out the remainder of his deal, one thing is for certain, he is undoubtedly committed to the immediate success of the Panthers as they look to secure a Grand Final victory against the Rabbitoh’s on Sunday.