A cloud of uncertainty is hovering over the long-term playing future of Wests Tigers winger Taniela Tuiaki.

Tuiaki, the club’s leading tryscorer in 2009, failed to take the field for the Tigers last year.

Rumours have been bouncing around for a few months now that the barnstorming winger’s career could be over.

The Tigers re-signed Tuiaki last year on an incentive based deal for 2011 however his failure to recover has the Tigers making a decision on his future in the next few weeks.

“It’s been an unfortunate injury for the big fella and I’d like to think he’ll get back but reality says from the doctors that it might not happen,” Tigers coach Tim Sheens told reporters on Monday.

“Until that is a definite from the specialists we’ll just have to sit and wait.

“He’s had two specialists look at it, he’s had a number of surgeries and so we have to weigh it all up, probably in the next couple of weeks.

“He’s in a bit of strife and the specialists will determine what the next move is – cartilage transplants, rests, whatever, they’ve tried lots of things.”

The devastating news for the 28-year-old could open the door for another Kiwi international, former Canterbury winger Matt Utai, to revive his NRL career.

Utai has been training with the Tigers and the decision on Tuiaki will have a major bearing on whether the ex-Bulldog picks up a contract.

“That probably is an insurance,” Sheens said.

“Keeping as much depth as we can is important so if we do lose the big fella I’ll want to have another option there.”

Mitch Brown, Beau Ryan and Geoff Daniela would also vie for the right wing position, with Test star Lote Tuqiri having a mortgage on the left.

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