Taupau secures Sea Eagles switch
Wests Tigers lock Martin Taupau has been released from the final year of his contract to take up a four-year deal with the Sea Eagles commencing in 2016.
Currently on tour with the Kiwis ahead of their three-match series against England, Taupau had been in negotiations with Wests Tigers over extending his stay at the club, but ultimately chose to pursue an opportunity with the Sea Eagles, who will also welcome representative front-rower Nate Myles to the club in 2016.
Described by his new club as "arguably the best forward in rugby league" and "one of the club's biggest signings since Malcolm Reilly", Taupau was buoyed by his move to the northern beaches, and said he is ready for a fresh start under new coach Trent Barrett.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for me to play in a strong team alongside some of the game’s biggest names in Jamie Lyon, Brett Stewart, Daly Cherry-Evans, Peta Hiku and Steve Matai," Taupau said via a Manly statement.
"The Sea Eagles have recruited well for next season and to have the opportunity to play with Australian and Queensland prop Nate Myles, and fellow Kiwi international Lewis Brown, was an added bonus in securing my future with Manly.
"The Sea Eagles are one of the most successful clubs in the history of rugby league and I want to be a big part in getting them back into the finals next season as they celebrate their 70th Anniversary."
While the loss of Taupau is a blow to the Tigers' chances in 2016, both CEO Justin Pascoe and coach Jason Taylor were confident in being able to cover the loss of the New Zealand international.
"The decision to release Taupau early not only improves the club’s salary cap position but as a consequence will also help to secure some of the young talent already with the club," Pascoe said via a club statement.
Taylor added: "We’re confident that our roster, including a number of new recruits, will lead this club well next season.
"The club has been working hard to improve depth across every position and we have players ready to step up."
Wests Tigers will return for pre-season training next week, while Taupau will link up with his new teammates prior to the Christmas/New Year break.