New Tigers signing Isaiah Papali’i will remain in the blue and gold for 2022, while the Kangaroos and Kiwis have commited to playing in the 2022 World Cup after pulling out of this years’ edition.
Read below for Off-season Central
ALL ABOARD THE WORLD CUP
After pulling out of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, the ARL will be back on board for the 2022 edition.
Since their withdrawal, World Cup chief executive Jon Dutton has praised administrators from both the ARL and NZRL.
After the ARL and NZRL made the decision to pull out of the 2021 edition, there were tensions between the organisations and the Rugby League International Federation – giving the board only 10 minutes notice they were pulling out.
As the Kangaroos have now fully commited to the 2022 World Cup and the Kiwis are in conversation, tensions have simmered.
“There was a period of reflection and I think we felt a little sorry for ourselves for a few days, but we dusted ourselves down and began the conversations with [NRL chief executive] Andrew Abdo and [NZRL boss] Greg Peters in September,” Dutton told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“They’ve both been conciliatory, positive and constructive and have been very clear they want to play in our tournament next year.
“We don’t know what the future holds from a COVID perspective, but we are hopeful across the world the situation is improving.
“We’ve seen some great events around the world, including Australia winning the T20 World Cup on the weekend and the Wallabies played at Twickenham in front of 80,000 spectators – and that’s what we want.
“We want to move away from the things that were said publicly. We’ve all learned a few lessons, but they are positive lessons.”
The tournament will be played 13 days after the NRL’s grand final, scheduled for a tournament start on October 15.
“We just want to get people over safely, and perhaps on staggered flights,” World Cup chief executive Jon Dutton said.
“We’re very open-minded about warm-up games being played in Sydney before teams depart, some games could take place en route and some games could take place in the UK.
“It’s just another challenge for us, but having had a 61-game, 21-venue schedule to put back together we quite like a challenge.”
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The competitions start date leaves minimal time for teams to play warm-up games as well as travel to the UK.
Australia, New Zealand and the pacific nations could potentially play warm-up games on home soil before making the trip overseas.
PAPALI’I TO STAY PUT IN 2022
Isaiah Papali’i has signed for the Wests Tigers for the 2023 season and despite his departure there is one bit of good news for the Eels.
Papali’i has expressed no desire to leave the Parramatta side early and the Tigers are reportedly happy to see him stay and develop in the blue and gold jersey in 2022.
Regularly when a player signs a contract 12 months in advance the new club attempts to bring their star recruit over for the coming season, but not in this case according to Wests Tigers Director of Football Tim Sheens.
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“It wasn’t even discussed during negotiations,” Sheens told Wide World of Sports.
“We are building towards 2023 and that is when Isaiah will be joining us – not before.”
Sheens also praised newly signed recruitment manager Warren McDonnell for the huge coup.
“Warren was instrumental in us clinching the deal,” Sheens said.
The Eels have now lost Niukore to the Warriors while a host of star players are yet to be re-signed including Clint Gutherson, Reed Mahoney and Junior Paulo.
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