SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JULY 02: Viliame Kikau of the Panthers offloads the ball to Apisai Koroisau of the Panthers during the round 16 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at BlueBet Stadium on July 02, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Penrith Panthers’ star Apisai Koroisau is off-contract at the end of 2022, and could be just days away from making a decision on where he will play in 2023.
While the Panthers have previously stated their intentions to keep a talented trio who are all off-contract at the end of next season, Viliame Kikau has already been pictured in a Bulldogs’ polo, while speculation regarding the future of Dylan Edwards and Koroisau refuses to go away.
It’s well-known the Panthers are juggling a tight salary cap, with the club struggling to keep their house in order following multiple upgrades and contract extensions, including James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota.
Koroisau is on a reported figure of around $450,000 per season during his current deal, and will require a large upgrade to remain at the foot of the mountains in his next deal.
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 03: Apisai Koroisau passes during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin training session at NSWRL Centre of Excellence on June 03, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)
The Panthers, however, with their salary cap, are unlikely to be able to match the money on offer from elsewhere, and it’s now being reported by The Daily Telegraph that the Wests Tigers have sweetened the deal for Koroisau further.
The former Rabbitoh and Sea Eagle is known to want a three-year deal in his next contract, and that’s now exactly what the Tigers have offered to go with the increase in value.
It had been reported the Dolphins were looking at Koroisau, but may also actively pursue a single-season stop-gap measure before chasing Queenslander Harry Grant for 2024.
While the Tigers have Jacob Liddle and Jake Simpkin – who is rated as the best young dummy half in the game – on the books, they need a game-winner immediately to turn the tide at a club who haven’t made the finals in over a decade, and it’s believed new director of football Tim Sheens and co see Koroisau as that figure.
Liddle is on contract at the Tigers until the end of 2023, while Simpkin is at the club until the end of 2024, meaning their roster balance would be out of whack should they sign Koroisau without letting one of the current hookers go, however, it’s understood the club are more than willing for that to happen should they manage to land the premiership-winning Koroisau.
It’s understood Koroisau could make his decision on 2023s destination in a matter of days.