Parramatta Eels star Isaiah Papali'i could seek shock return to New Zealand Warriors despite lucrative Wests Tigers deal

Parramatta Eels star Isaiah Papali’i could seek shock return to New Zealand Warriors despite lucrative Wests Tigers deal

“That’s for my manager to look after. Even if I don’t stay here or I do go next year, I want to make sure this year has no regrets.”

Isiaih Papali’i could be heading back to the Warriors.Credit:Getty

Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis was asked to respond to Papali’i’s sentiments during his weekly slot on SEN’s Vossy & Brandy program on Tuesday.

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

“We’ll seek clarification today from his manager, but I don’t put a lot of stock into it. What he was trying to say, if I’m reading that correctly, is that he wants to focus this year with Parramatta, which is fair enough. I would expect nothing different.


“It’s well known that we enjoy a contractual relationship with Isaiah and very much look forward to welcoming the club in 2023.”

Papali’i has indicated he wants to wait until the end of the season before determining his future, but Hagipantelis wants an answer much sooner.

“As I say, we’re very comfortable with where we sit,” Hagipantelis said. “Isaiah is contracted to Wests Tigers for three years commencing 1 November and we look forward to seeing him… I don’t put a lot of stock into what he was saying so far as it being anti-Wests Tigers or anti-contractual obligations.

“He may have been speculating as such about where his mindset is, so far as his commitment to the rest of this year with Parramatta.

“If he wanted to say more, I’m sure he will, either directly himself or through his manager and we will deal with it.

“At the moment though, I don’t want to read into his comments. I don’t want to create any angst between the club and the player and I’ll try to put the most positive spin on it and just say he is focused on the end of this year.

“We have a contract, it’s in black and white and it’s been signed by both parties. We are very comfortable with where we sit.”

Hagipantelis added that collapse of a railing at Leichhardt Oval on the weekend was further proof that the state government should honor its commitment to funding suburban stadiums.

“In the year 2022, it is embarrassing to be having a conversation about the safety of our public venues for sporting fixtures,” Hagipantelis said. “We are very lucky that someone wasn’t killed.”