Wests Tigers gun prop Stefano Utoikamanu has locked in a long-term contract extension with the club, which will see him remain with the joint-venture until the end of 2025.
It was hardly a rush to sign Utoikamanu given he was still on contract with the Concord-based club until the end of 2023, however, the two year extension means he will play with the Tigers for at least the next four seasons.
Included in the New South Wales State of Origin extended squad for Game 3 last year, Utoikamanu has impressed in the middle third since making his debut in 2020 at the Eels.
His first season at the Tigers saw him play 21 games and become a mainstay of Michael Maguire's struggling side. His average of just under 100 metres per game won't take into account the weeks he played limited minutes off the bench, with Utoikamanu growing strongly into his role as a starting prop during the final two months of the season, including playing 59, 56 and 62 minutes during the final three games of the season.
By the end of the season, he had become on par with other forwards at the Tigers including the pack leader Alex Twal.
Rated as a future State of Origin prospect, he will likely hold a starting spot in the Tigers forward pack this season.
Maguire said it was pleasing for the club to see the 21-year-old commit long-term.
“We’re all very pleased to see Stefano re-sign with Wests Tigers,” Maguire said.
“His decision to commit his future to Wests Tigers further highlights what we are building at the club and I’m sure that Stefano will play a big part in delivering that.
“He has continued to work hard at all aspects of his game, and I look forward to seeing him continue to improve over the coming seasons.”