They had to pull out all the stops to keep Penrith’s claws off coach Tim Sheens just two months ago.
Now Wests Tigers officials are bracing for another cat-fight, with the Panthers targeting star duo Chris Heighington and Beau Ryan for a shock switch to the foot of the mountains next year.
The pair are both managed by veteran agent Wayne Beavis, who denied he’d been involved in any discussions with Penrith when we contacted him this week.
But we keep hearing the Panthers are particularly keen on Heighington, who is contracted at Concord for another two years.
Second-row is a priority recruitment area for the Panthers, who are preparing for life after Trent Waterhouse.
Beavis did reveal he’d had some chats earlier this year about Heighington’s future role at the Tigers, who have placed a huge buying emphasis on youth and the recruitment of superstar Storm back-rower Adam Blair.
Tigers boss Stephen Humphreys confirmed the discussions, but denied there was any green light given for Heighington and Ryan to negotiate elsewhere – as was the case with Andrew Fifita, Bryce Gibbs, Tim Moltzen, Wade McKinnon and Liam Fulton.
“I’ve heard nothing about Penrith being interested in either of them,” Humphreys said.
What is known is the close relationship that Beavis enjoys with new Panthers supremo Phil Gould.
The pair worked together to get ex-Rabbitoh Junior Vaivai a mid-season lifeline, and don’t be surprised if the hard word is put on Heighington and Ryan to follow suit.