Premiership-winning front-rower James Tamou will leave North Queensland for family reasons, his manager has confirmed.
Tamou reportedly informed his Cowboys teammates of his decision to leave the NRL premiers on Thursday morning.
The 27-year-old’s manager Sam Ayoub was unable to confirm that discussion had taken place but said the decision to leave the Cowboys had been made.
“He’s made the decision to relocate his family to Sydney to have some extended family support around,” Ayoub told AAP.
Tamou and his wife Brittney are expecting their third child and it’s understood the NSW and Australia representative has been agonising over the decision for weeks.
Up to three clubs are believed to have tabled bids for Tamou, with Penrith the front-runners on the back of a lucrative four-year deal.
Ayoub says nothing has been finalised at this point.
“I’m working through with the interested parties here and I’ll work through things over the next week or so,” he said.
Tamou’s departure is the first setback for the Cowboys as they try to retain the squad which delivered the club’s maiden premiership in 2015.
Backs Lachlan Coote, Antonio Winterstein and Kane Linnett have all signed new deals in recent weeks.
But grand final winners Ben Hannant, Justin O’Neill, Rory Kostjasyn and Ethan Lowe are all off contract.
Tamou has made 157 NRL appearances for the Cowboys after debuting in 2009.
The New Zealand-born prop has also made 12 State of Origin appearances for the Blues and featured in 12 Tests for the Kangaroos.