Dan Walsh, NRL.com
Mick Potter might not be able to get a contract extension at the moment, but that hasn't deterred more of the Tigers promising batch of youngsters committing to the club long term, with forwards Ava Seumanufagai and Sitaleki Akuola putting pen to paper over the last 24 hours.
Seumanufagai who has featured in every game for the Tigers so far in 2014, has extended his current contract by a year until the end of next season, while Akuola, who has played six games this season after debuting in Round 5 against Melbourne, will remain with the club until the end of 2016.
Potter says the new deal for Seumanufagai is just reward for the improvements the former Eels junior has made in both fitness and performance since first getting a start with the Tigers last year
“Ava has steadily improved as the year has gone on,” Potter said. “There’s no doubt he has been a real asset for us with his metres after contact, ability to build ruck speed and exceptional defence.”
“Ava has worked really hard on his fitness at every possible opportunity and it’s showing in his football as he starts to get more and more minutes.
“The players love it when Ava comes on the field, he gives us that lift and really deserves what he is getting.”
Akuola meanwhile is expected to add utility value to the Tigers top 25 squad when he joins full time next year with his ability to play anywhere from the backrow to the out wide, and hails from the same Manurewa junior club as Kiwi Test stars Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Peta Hiku, Greg Eastwood and Siliva Havili.
“I’m really happy with my new deal,” Akauola said. “It has always been a dream of mine to play in the NRL and it’s great to have that opportunity with the Wests Tigers.
“It’s really pleasing to stay for another two years and my goal is to cement a position in the NRL team through hard-work and consistent performances.”