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The Wests Tigers have flown under the radar and signed exciting prospect Stefano Utoikamanu from Parramatta’s grasp, according to NRL.com.

The 19-year has reportedly signed a three-year deal from 2021 to be one of the biggest contracts for a player who is yet to debut in the NRL, with the deal said to be worth around $800,000 in total.

Parramatta tried to retain the teenager, who has drawn comparisons to Broncos enforcer Payne Haas.

The Tigers have landed this coup and are also set to sign Dragons forward Luciano Leilua in the coming days.

The Tigers are also the front-runners to sign Latrell Mitchell, but want Utoikamanu to join the club immediately and play for them in 2020.

The Eels planned to feature Utoikamanu and make his debut in 2020, but now have a decision to make whether to keep him at the club or let him move to the Tigers immediately.

Utoikamanu was no guarantee of being bumped into the Eels’ NRL squad as a development player, and now looks set to earn triple what the Eels initially put forward to him midway through the year.

The Eels have raised their bids recently, but Utoikamanu had already made up his mind on where he wanted to play.

The Eels have a strong pack with Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard starting up front and that was a contributing factor into Utoikamanu choosing the Tigers, as there would be fewer options in front of him.

The Eels also have no shortage of depth in the front row, with NSW under 18’s Origin front-rower Dave Hollis also on the roster, as well as Sam Hughes.

Tigers coach Michael Maguire has been desperate to add some size and strength to his pack, and the signing of Utoikamanu is sure to bring just that to the club.

Utoikamanu scored the match-winning try for NSW in a man-of-the-match performance in the under 18’s Origin game last year, and then backed that up with 149 metres from 11 hit-ups in the under 20’s victory this year.





  1. Such a shame. He went to my primary school and also has a brother my age going up through the roosters pathway. Really wished he could stay. Surely eels wanted to keep their most promising forward. Brad Fittler said himself, he was the premier forward in NSW growing up (even ahead of Hass) before injuries got to him.

  2. Teen sensation?
    Surely the author of this blog is a Tigers supporter.
    A half decent battering ram yes but a massive liability in defence.
    There is a reason why a few other Eels juniors played 1st grade before Stefano.
    If this was a part of a swap deal for Matterson then we were the big winners in that one.

  3. Kev, we will see next year. Keep in mind he is a “Teen” and everyone knows that young peoples defence is their weakness because they are up against full grown men. Obviously right now we are the winners because we have a star player coming in for him, but in the future, who knows how good Stefano will be.

  4. Remember the last time the Tigers did this?
    Let me remind you, it was Moses Suli.
    Suli was a Parra junior, got paid huge money by the Tigers without playing in the NRL.
    He ended up playing 16 games and scoring 2 tries.
    He turned up to trainings for 5 minutes then slept in the cars of his teammates, he then went to the Bulldogs and got multiple warnings and got axed from them too before even playing a game.

    When will the tigers learn paying heaps of a youngster with a huge reputation doesn’t equal success. Newcastle when they got Ponga atleast let him play 9 games for the Cowboys, and agreed to give him 600k which people called an overpay now look at him.

  5. swa9amuff1n. You can’t let one example influence every decision in the future. Yes Stefano is young, but stop always focusing on the negative examples that have happened in the NRL. How do you know whether he has an attitude problem, maybe he is actually hard working with a bright future. Not everyone that is young has attitude problems when they are offered heaps of money.

  6. Don’t worry he will end up a superstar at Manly once Des gets his hands on him just like hes done with Trex in the past and moses suli more recently and dozens of other parra players that came to manly for a brighter future and to win comps not spoons.

  7. EelsFTW, I tend to agree with you on this.
    It’s a shame, and good luck to the young fellow, but it’s hard to try and match a deal like that at this stage.
    ManWar78, yeah maybe, but assuming he (Utoinkamanu) fulfills his new 3 year contract with the Tigers Dessie won’t be at Manly by the end of it, and the replacement coach (for Manly) could only offer very limited “coin” (quite literally).

  8. Eels why would you say Des wont be there in 3 years? Hes got a proven track record of success over a long period of time and his first stint at manly was 8 years and I have no doubt he will be there for at least that many again. He’s 11 years younger than bennett so still plenty of mileage left in his legs.

  9. Back ended deals, and he had to work around DCE’s.
    DCE’s ends in 4 years, hence 6 year deals for the Turbos, in order to bear the brunt, but DCE probably won’t last/wont be anywhere his best by the end of his deal, so it may well start unraveling a year or two early.
    I think he’s a good coach, but I also suspect both he (for his career) and Manly (the club) expect short term success, given they both know it’ll get harder in the medium term based on (my suspected) current structure.

  10. You got one thing right. The turbos are champion players. There will be premiership success for them and the club in the short medium term.

  11. Not with a has been like DCE as your halfback.
    Tonga wouldn’t have beaten us if we had a decent halfback guiding the side.
    DCE has a average passing and kicking game and zero running game. He is also crap at guiding a side around.
    Built his reputation riding on Foran’s coat tails.

  12. You guys should stop complaining.
    You stole mitch moses from us….& now matterson. Both were still under contract and you got them early.

    Surely the tigers deserve something from that. We need all the help we can get….hahaha.

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