June 25, 2024

He speaks on future at Tiger Town

He has a clause in his contract that could see him leave at the end of 2024

Destined to become a future captain of the club, Stefano Utoikamanu has responded to reports regarding his future at the Wests Tigers.

Last year, reports emerged that the prop has a clause in his contract with the Tigers that states if the Tigers don’t make the finals next season, he will be able to leave as a free agent, despite his current contract scheduled to run until 2025.

Heading into the upcoming season, Utoikamanu has broken his silence on the issue and admits that his only focus is to help the Wests Tigers reach the top eight, pledging his allegiance to new coach Benji Marshall.

“I’m trying to focus on making the top eight, that’s what I want to do – I want to stay at the Tigers,” Utoikamanu told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“I’ve loved every minute I’ve been here. They’ve given me my big opportunity to become the player I am now.

“I want to give back to the club. We’ll see what happens. I haven’t listened [to speculation]. Benji is big on ‘team first’, and putting others before yourself, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

The publication would further ask the representative forward that if the Tigers were out of the finals race before the mid-season deadline, would he consider leaving? Despite answering the question, he provided no certainty that he would remain in the orange and black.

“If something like that did arise, and something happened, my manager would sort it out,” he added.

Although he made his debut for the NSW Blues in last year’s State of Origin series, he was surprisingly left out of the 35-man Blues pre-season Origin squad last weekend by Michael Maguire.

Utoikamanu was the only player – bar the retired Tevita Pangai Junior – who competed in a 2023 Origin game that was not selected in the pre-season squad.

Despite this shock announcement, The Daily Telegraph revealed that he still remains in the plans of New South Wales and Michael Maguire has reached out the front-rower.

“He gave me a call, he said he wasn’t going to include me in the squad, but he didn’t really say too much else; he said, ‘Play good footy and it will all sort itself out’,” Utoikamanu said.

Stefano Utoikamanu - Wests Tigers - NRL Player Profile - Zero Tackle

“It will only motivate me not being in that squad, especially because I played last year, and I want to play more this year. I’ll push for a spot in that team again.”

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