SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 09: Josh Aloiai of the Tigers throws a water bottle during the round 18 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Wests Tigers at ANZ Stadium on July 9, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

The Wests Tigers have been rocked by the reported release request by star forward Josh Aloiai, which has seemingly come out of nowhere.

Aloiai, who shares the same manager as Addin Fonua-Blake who recently leveraged wanting to move back home to leverage a larger contract in 2021, has reported stated that he will “never wear the Tigers jersey again’.

Reports haven’t indicated why the release request has come, or more importantly why such an ultimatum was issued, but one thing is for sure, the Tigers need to react in a way that shuts this down in the future.

Fresh off seeing star forward Ryan Matterson walk away from the second year of his contract after using the Tigers to rebuild his career, the Tigers have seemingly been left with no choice but to allow Aloiai to follow a similar path.

Tigers won’t won’t need reminding that Matterson, who has genuine Origin pedigree, had a blinder of a season at the club, only to force an exit to the Eels in chase of a title.

If the Tigers allow Aloiai the same airchair ride out of the club and into a big contract at the Sea Eagles, it just opens them up to further such instances in the future.

This is a chance for the Tigers to send a message to players looking to use the club as a gap year option in search of a genuine destination or a larger contract.

If I’m Michael McGuire I’m flat out ignoring Aloiai’s request until a player of similar talent and price becomes available. Wouldn’t even respond to reports in public and would send Aloiai’s player agent a simple “lol nah”.

Sit him in reserve grade if he’s so sure he never wants to wear the jersey again.

Have him train alone but expect him to kit up for the Tigers reserves.

Sure, there’s $350k sitting on the sidelines but this is a real ‘short term pain, long term gain’ situation.

With all due respect to the current Tigers roster, there’s no chance they’re challenging for the title in 2021. They’ll be flat chat contesting a rare finals birth. Aloiai is a quality prop but he’s not going to make or break the season.

If a player comes up who can fill the run on prop spot, then and only then do you pay any attention to the left field request of a player agent who has form of not respecting contracts.

Contracts haven’t meant anything in as long as I can remember but the Tigers face the very real reality of seeing another forward walk just cause.

Right now that seems all it is. Just cause.

There’s evidently a contract at Manly, which must be worth an absolute gem as the Sea Eagles are in no matter position to chase the title in 2021 than the Tigers.

Unless there are serious factors at play here behind the scenes, the Tigers need to stand tall and send a message.

The entire situation again calls into question the role of player managers.

Tyran Smith, the manager in question, recently negotiated the release of Addin Fonua-Blake. This freed up substantial cash for the Sea Eagles to chase a replacement.

I’m sure it’s a coincidence that Josh Aloiai, also managed by Smith, is suddenly trying to force a big money move to the Sea Eagles.

Whatever the reasoning behind the sudden request, although it looks pretty obvious for all and sunder, the Tigers need to ensure they’re not reduced to being a pawn in the player manager’s game of chess.

Sit tight, much as Melbourne did with Addo-Carr. If nothing comes along then sit the player in the reserves.

If he doesn’t want to train and play as per his contract, then I’m sure the NRL will be on hand to step in where required.

Make Manly pony up the player the Tigers want or wait until a prop becomes available. Given the amount of player movement expected in this off-season, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a quality prop won’t pop up.

Either way though, the Tigers need to long long-term and at the bigger picture.

They looked weak when they stood by and watched Ryan Matterson walk into title contention with the Eels.

That can’t happen again.


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