Bulldogs launch eleventh-hour bid to try and beat Tigers to Luai signature | The Sporting Base

Bulldogs launch eleventh-hour bid to try and beat Tigers to Luai signature

November 29, 2023

Bulldogs launch eleventh-hour bid to try and beat Tigers to Luai signature

The Canterbury Bulldogs are trying to stage an eleventh-hour hijacking of the Wests Tigers’ big-money Jarome Luai signing, with club honcho Gus Gould holding a formal meeting with the three-time NRL champion on Wednesday.

The rushed-together lunchtime meeting, which was first reported by The Daily Telegraph today, saw Luai and Gould sit down and talk about the future of the Bulldogs. After the formal talks, Luai is now expected to talk to head coach Cameron Ciraldo sometime later this week, again to talk about the building project at Belmore.

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It’s a late-hour play for the 26-year-old five-eighth, who had already all but signed with the Tigers. There is one sticking point: Wests offered $1.1 million and Luai wants closer to $1.2 million to leave the Panthers.

The Sporting Base has heard the Bulldogs won’t match the big-money Tigers bid though.

Instead, Gus is confident he can sell Luai the Canterbury project under Ciraldo and promise several more big-name signings to turn the Belmore club into a finals-bound squad again. Though there’s no specific role offer—Benji Marshall said Luai could play halfback if he wanted—it is a similar proposition to the Tigers’ last gambit.

The Panthers are, of course, still keen to keep the club junior, especially considering how well he works with Nathan Cleary, but have only been able to offer him around $850,000 a season due to ballooning salary cap costs. Before the Tigers or the Bulldogs came onto the scene in earnest Penrith was hoping loyalty would keep their five-eighth playing at the foot of the mountain, but $1.1 million a year will likely be too much for the 26-year-old to turn down.

Luai is expected to report to Panthers preseason training next week. Either way, he still has the 2024 NRL season to play under his Penrith contract before heading anywhere new.

He is currently nursing a shoulder injury that means he’ll miss Penrith’s England tour.

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