NRL Rd 18 - Cowboys v Wests Tigers
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 01: West Tigers Board Director Lee Hagipantelis and CEO Justin Pascoe look on before the start of the round 18 NRL match between North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers at Qld Country Bank Stadium on July 01, 2023 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Lee Hagipantelis, the Chairman of the Wests Tigers, has discussed the rumours that the club is interested in Jarome Luai's services and has offered him a contract.

The star five-eighth and three-time premiership winner is arguably the hottest free agent in the NRL and has been heavily chased by the Wests Tigers and Canterbury Bulldogs.

The Wests Tigers are believed to have formally put their offer to Luai's new management on Thursday, totalling about $4.5 million for four years, while the Bulldogs are believed to have expressed interest but as yet haven't put an offer to Luai.

While the decision from Luai may be imminent, the Panthers have confirmed they won't be matching the bid, but reports have suggested they have offered the representative star a two-year contract extension worth $1.7 million.

It is understood that Luai has just over one week to determine where he will be playing his rugby league from 2025 onwards.

“All of those recruitment and retention discussions have to be held in-house, all I can do is reiterate what Benji said publicly,” Hagipantelis told SEN 1170 Breakfast.

“Jarome is a quality marquee player, when these sorts of players become available on the market it would be remiss of any organisation not to look at the opportunity.

“You can assume that the opportunity has been looked at.

“As to where it goes or what happens, that's a matter for others, well above my pay grade.”

Lee Hagipantelis also discussed the plethora of roster changes the club have made, which have seen them show the door to player such as Luke Brooks, Jackson Hastings, James Tamou, Luke Garner, Tommy Talau and bring in the likes of Apisai Koroisau, David Klemmer, and Isaiah Papali'i.

“We have a list management committee and a senior head coach who is very well attuned to these things, they'll take care of all the recruitment and retention decisions,” Hagipantelis added.

“I couldn't be happier or more impressed with the way they're managing that roster at the moment, I'll leave it at that.”

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The news comes as the club could be forced to find a new major sponsor if Lee Hagipantelis is removed from the board due to an independent review of the club.

The Herald has reported that the review is currently ongoing, and there is no set date for the findings to be announced or released at this stage. Although a likely recommendation is for the directors of the club to step back - Hagipantelis is one of three independent directors.

However, the publication has reported that "sources speaking on the condition of anonymity, given the report is not yet released, said there were concerns Brydens will not renew the deal if Hagipantelis is no longer the chairman or a director".

It is understood that Brydens Lawyers pay the Wests Tigers an estimated $1 million a season to feature on the front of the jersey, and the contract between the two parties comes to an end at the conclusion of next season.

"The club would then have to go to market for a seven-figure backer after earning consecutive wooden spoons," the Herald article read.