SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 18: Isaiah Papali'i of the Warriors is sent to the sin bin during the round 11 Parramatta Eels and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium on May 18, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

After the player addressed the matter for the first time this week and Wests Tigers reminded everyone that they expect him to honour the lucrative deal, one more NRL team has been reported as a possible destination for Isaiah Papali'i.

The New Zealand Warriors are reported to be another candidate for Papali’i’s services. He made his debut for the club back in 2017 and spent four years there before his eventual move to Sydney’s west.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that sources close to the situation suggest Papali’i is keen to return home for family reasons. His partner, Kiwi netballer Elle Temu, still lives in New Zealand and the pair have spent a lot of time separated during the past two years thanks to distance and Covid regulations.

The Warriors recently freed up a chunk of salary cap space after agreeing to let Eliesa Katoa join Melbourne for 2022 – but it’s likely they’d need to clear more space as the value of a player like Papali’i gets higher every week.

Though there was no mention of the Warriors or homesickness, Papali’i finally broke his silence on the contract situation this week, talking to Nine News.

He confirmed that it was the Tigers decision to sack coach Michael Maguire that ‘rattled his cage’ about the move, saying he was now putting all of his focus into the remainder of the Eels' season and would worry about the contract issues afterwards.

That prompted a response from Wests Tigers CEO Lee Hagipantelis, who spoke to SEN Radio in the aftermath.

“I don’t want to speculate in a public forum what Isaiah was intending to convey with those remarks,” Hagipantelis said.

“We’ll seek clarification from his manager, but I don’t put a lot of stock into (back-flip rumours). What he’s saying is… he wants to focus on this year with Parramatta, which is fair enough. I’d expect nothing different.

“We have a contract, it’s in black-and-white. I’m very comfortable with where we sit.”




  1. If only the NRL had a proper transfer system, there would be no need for all this posturing.

    Warriors would pay Wests a transfer fee, and registration for 2023 would pass to Warriors. Wests could use the money towards recruiting a replacement.
    So obvious to everyone except Mr Abdo, Mr Annesley and Mr V’landys

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