As the Tigers prepare to face Canberra on Sunday, Stefano Utoikamanu remains at the centre of transfer rumours, with at least four clubs expressing interest in the raw-talented front-rower.

After being overlooked for Origin Game Two, the only way for the Tigers to activate a clause for Stefano to stay at the club is if they reach the NRL finals - a feat mathematically possible yet largely unlikely.

While the Tigers are not yet out of contention, rival clubs cannot engage in formal negotiations with Utoikamanu. The Tigers have already put forth a five-year contract worth approximately $4 million to secure his future.

While the point of a salary cap is to create equal opportunity for clubs to have access to a broad mix of youth, experience and talent, the fact is that clubs in the cellar often have to pay much more than a player's true worth to lure them to sign or stay.

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Utoikamanu has dismissed speculation about an early exit, giving hopes for Tigers fans that the club can avoid a dreaded three-peat of wooden spoons.

"I want to be here for the rest of the year," Utoikamanu stated.

"I love the Tigers, but it's hard when we are struggling. I love these boys here. I just want to get as many wins as we can before the season ends."

Despite the reassurance and commitment to the team, Utoikamanu remains a case study on why the salary cap model is flawed.

While the Tigers remain optimistic about retaining Stefano, his consideration of taking less money to go to a club with more likelihood of playing finals football is on display for all to see.

"I think if you're in the NRL, you want to win a premiership. It has been a bit hard being here. I came here for an opportunity, they gave me that, I'm grateful for that. But it's been a tough couple of seasons. I just want to focus on winning," Utoikamanu stated, staunchly.

Sources close to the negotiations revealed that this weekend's opponents the Canberra Raiders are poised to make a move for Utoikamanu once he becomes a free agent. He is viewed as a potential replacement for Josh Papalii, who will retire at the end of 2025.

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The Roosters, Melbourne Storm and the Dolphins are supposedly also keeping a close eye on the situation.

When asked about his plans for 2025, Utoikamanu responded, "I don't know. We're in discussions now. Anything can happen, really. I've never really been to other clubs other than here and Parramatta. I came here for the opportunity, and I'm grateful the Wests Tigers gave me that. The main thing I want to focus on now is getting us more wins."

Utoikamanu remains undeterred by media speculation, leaving contract negotiations to his manager.

"I just brushed it off to [my manager] so he gets all the heat. It's been a big talking point in the media. What I've got to focus on is trying to get this team back where we need to be."

The Tigers recently secured only their third win of the season against the Gold Coast Titans and are set to welcome back five-eighth Lachlan Galvin for Sunday's match against the Raiders at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

The Tigers have made significant signings for next season, including Jarome Luai and Sunia Turuva from Penrith.

It is understood that Jayden Sullivan and Brent Naden have been given permission to look for other clubs, and Isaiah Papali'i is heading to Penrith.