Viliame Kikau re-signs with Panthers
Penrith have extended boom Fijian back-rower Viliame Kikau's tenure at the club through until the end of 2022.
Kikau, already contracted until the end of next season, has taken up a new deal with the Panthers that includes an extra three years to keep rivals at bay after a breakout 2018 campaign.
With 71 tackle busts from 16 games this year, the 23-year-old has delivered on the potential that saw Penrith chase him hard having first risen to prominence as a juniors star at the Cowboys.
As a youngster growing up on the tiny Fijian island of Bau, Kikau only found his way to rugby league when he was spotted by North Queensland scouts playing his first game in the 13-man code, before shifting to Townsville and pursuing a full-time NRL career.
With his long term future sorted and 25 Telstra Premiership appearances and eight Tests for Fiji to his name, Kikau is tipped for big things as one of the most explosive young forwards in the game.
"Viliame is an incredible young man," Panthers general manager Phil Gould said.
"His story is a source of inspiration for all youngsters who dream of playing in the NRL, not the least of which will be the many young kids from his homeland in Fiji.
"We are very lucky to have him at our club as 'Billy' has now established himself as one of the most promising forwards in the NRL."
When Kikau first took up rugby league he shunned interest from cashed up French rugby outfits, having played for a Fijian schoolboys side against an Australian outfit that included Parramatta's Tepai Moeroa, Wallabies lock Ned Hanigan and his NSW Waratahs teammate Andrew Kellaway.
It's understood the 195cm, 119kg powerhouse was already being sized up by rival clubs despite having another 12 months to run on his Penrith deal.
But with every post a winner at the foot of the mountains, Kikau opted to first nut out what has proven a healthy extension with the Panthers rather than going to market in either code.
"It's very exciting to know I'll be at Panthers for the next few years," Kikau said.
"There are so many talented players at the club and I really enjoy their company. It was a big decision to re-sign and I made it with the full support of my family, which is most important to me.
"I know this is just the beginning and I can't wait to see what the future brings."
Kikau's long-term retention follows on from the recent re-signings of forward leader Reagan Campbell-Gillard (2024) and promising youngsters Kaide Ellis (2020), Caleb Aekins (2020) and Nick Lui-Toso (2020).