The Wests Tigers are no closer to replacing Michael Maguire after confirmation that Cameron Ciraldo had rejected the club on Saturday afternoon.
Ciraldo had reportedly landed a lucrative five-year deal to lure him away from the Penrith Panthers, but even that wasn’t enough to make the Tigers number 1 pick.
It has left the club faced with a “harsh reality”although Fox Leagues James Hooper says there is one bright spot for Tigers fans.
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“It’s not a great sign for the club, but the only thing that restores your confidence is the fact that someone like Tim Sheens is involved, is in control, has a huge football IQ and is running on the board in terms of being able to solve junk like the one the Wests Tigers are in,” he said triple M†
Sheens will now face a tough decision after missing Ciraldo, with Hooper revealing there could be a “leftfield” option for the Tigers to look into.
“I think they are now going to look at candidates like John Morris, who was with Cronulla and has some DNA with the Tigers, played under Tim Sheens and has ties there,” he said.
“Then there will also be seasoned premiership-winning candidates, such as Shane Flanagan and Paul Green, who will also be looked at.
“The other suggestion in left field and I think it does have some legs is Todd Payten in North Queensland.”
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It’s hard to imagine Payten agreeing to make a deal with the Tigers, given how well the Cowboys travel during his sophomore year at the helm.
He also has a contract with North Queensland until the end of next year.
Hooper said the same thing, but doesn’t think it will stop the Tigers from at least trying to see if it’s a possibility.
“He won a premiership under Tim Sheens at the Wests Tigers, he was previously involved as an assistant coach at the club and he has a lot of DNA in place,” Hooper said.
“I think if Tim Sheens could make his choice from the board and be able to get hold of whoever he wanted, I had no doubt that Todd Payten would be at the top of his wish list.”
Co-host and rugby league journalist Ben Dobbin wondered how realistic it would be for the Tigers to go after Payten, especially considering it could upset the North Queensland final.
“Was he leaving already?” asked Dobbin.
“With the success he is having this year, I read that this morning and that was my question. There are still whispers that Todd Payten is being sought but with what he is creating in North Queensland, you should think that there is no way the Cowboys let him go.”
Hooper said the Cowboys would be “crazy” to let Payten go, but added that it is not completely out of the picture, pointing to Ivan Cleary’s departure from the Tigers.
“That’s what happened when Ivan Cleary signed to go back to Penrith,” he said.
“He still had a year and a half to run to the Wests Tigers when the Panthers approached him, but the way he was able to negotiate an exit was for Penrith to pay the Tigers a transfer fee, which was about $250,000.”
Of course, Cleary left a declining Tigers team for a Panthers side at the top – the opposite of the situation Payten would face if he even harbored such an idea.
And even still, as James Graham pointed out, the fact that the Tigers made it so clear that Ciraldo was their first choice wouldn’t necessarily fit other goals.
“This is bad news for anyone involved with the Tigers, the fact that they were so involved with the public with their number 1 pick and now I think whoever gets the job they will be well aware of the fact they were not their number 1 choice,” he said.
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