After months of speculation and evasive answers, Parramatta Eels back-rower Isaiah Papali'i has officially confirmed he'll be fulfilling his contractual obligation and joining the Wests Tigers for 2023.
Papali'i signed the three-year, $1.8 million deal in November last year, but has spent the past few months avoiding questions about whether he would fulfil his obligation after the Tigers sacked Michael Maguire and finished last and Parramatta surged to a grand final.
But while the 24-year-old is unrepentant about the mind games, he's finally admitted that he had told new Tigers coach Tim Sheens that he would be coming across months ago.
Though he won't join his new club until he returns from World Cup duties, Papali'i insists the speculation is over.
“I can understand why some people weren't happy, but the people who needed to know at the Tigers knew what my plans were,” Papali'i told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I've been in contact with (Sheens) throughout the year. I didn't want my individual talks to worry the (Eels) group given the opportunity we had.
“I'm looking forward to the challenge in 2023 and the three years I've got at the Tigers. I'm all in. I'll be putting as much effort in there as I did at this club, that's a promise.”
Though he's ready for the next chapter in his NRL career, the back-rower will remain eternally grateful to the Eels after Brad Arthur's career lifeline after he was released by the Warriors.
“I can't thank Parramatta enough, my time here has made me a better player and a person,” Papali'i said.
“I know I can make a difference and help lead at the Tigers. I've grown up and sorted a few things out off the field and become an adult.
“It all contributes to your form and as much as it was hard to make that move to Parramatta to start with, Brad's challenged me to improve every week, no matter if I play my best game or my worst. That's what I take with me.”
Wow honouring a contract, how quaint.
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