Lote Tuqiri’s desire for a two-year deal appears to be the only sticking point in the dual international extending his stay with Wests Tigers into the 2013 NRL season.
Tuqiri has returned from a family holiday keen to step up talks on a new contract with the Tigers – the 32-year-old winger confident he still has plenty to offer despite his recent injury struggles.
While the Tigers are yet to sort out a coach for 2013 – with Manly assistant Matt Parish still the front-runner to succeed Tim Sheens – Tuqiri’s manager Giancarlo Lombardo said he expected the powerful winger to be part of the set-up next season.
“We’re making progress with Lote,” Lombardo told AAP.
“He’s been away for the last week and only got back last night. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to speak to him in the next day or two to try and put this matter to rest.
“The club have been great, they’ve had a lot of adversity the last couple of weeks … it’s taken a little bit longer than we had anticipated.
“One thing I guarantee you is Lote will be playing next year and hopefully beyond that as well.
“He’s very confident in his ability that he’s got a few years left in him yet.”
The Tigers trepidation in offering a two-year deal is understandable given Tuqiri’s injury struggles over the past two seasons.
After playing every game in 2010, he managed just nine games in 2011 and 12 matches this year before a broken arm brought a premature end to his campaign.
Coupled with the emergence of young gun Marika Koroibete and the salary cap issues engulfing the club, Tuqiri appeared on the outer.
But Beau Ryan’s controversial departure to Cronulla may have opened the door for Tuqiri to stay on with the club, though it is believed they would be far happier with a one-year deal.