Eels star Isaiah Papali’i makes shock $1.8m move to Wests Tigers NRL 2021 RD22 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles v Parramatta Eels – Isaiah Papali’i Picture: NRL Photos

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The Parramatta Eels have reportedly lost their second high-profile back-rower in as many weeks, with the Wests Tigers securing a huge coup.

The Wests Tigers have reportedly signed Parramatta back-rower Isaiah Papali’i on a three-year deal in a huge coup for the club.

As revealed by The Daily Telegraph, the 23-year-old has knocked back offers for a two-year extension deal at Parramatta. He will remain with the Eels in 2022 before joining the Tigers ahead of the 2023 season.

According to the report, the deal is worth more than $600,000 per season.

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It marks the Tigers’ first significant signing under new head of football Tim Sheens, who arrived at Concord last week.

However, some questioned the price tag put on Papali’i. Daily Telegraph rugby league writer David Riccio tweeted: “Good get by the Tigers — but $600k a season for Isaiah Papali’i That’s more than what Victor Radley, Payne Haas, Dale Finucane, Christian Welch and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui were on this year.”

The Eels have now lost two stars in as many weeks, with Marata Niukore joining the Warriors earlier this month.

Following a four-year stint at the Warriors, Papali’i played 25 games and scored seven tries for Parramatta in 2021, during which he finished third in the league for post-contact metres.

He was a revelation for the Eels and considered by many to be the best buy of the season.

Earlier this week, Papali’i’s manager Daniel O’Loughlin told Wide World of Sports he had no intention of leaving Sydney, despite rumours the Dolphins — the NRL’s newest franchise in Queensland — were circling.

“Isaiah is settled in Sydney with his family and prefers to stay here,” O’Loughlin said.

“The Tigers are very keen but he also feels a loyalty to Parramatta so will probably give them the last say.

“I think they are meeting this week so we will see what they come up with.”

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