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Tigers have cap space to keep up 'aggressive' market approach

Wests Tigers hierarchy say the club still has enough salary cap space to continue an "aggressive" signing spree that has "broken a difficult cycle" on the recruitment front.

In the past week the Tigers have finalised long-term deals for outside backs Joey Leilua and Adam Doueihi while a landmark swap deal that will trade Paul Momirovski and Melbourne's Harry Grant is also close to completion, locking in 29 of the club's top 30 for this season.

While their Tigers' lucrative bids to lure Latrell Mitchell and Jai Arrow to Concord did not come off, the club has been buoyed by the additions of Leilua and his brother Luciano to shore up their centre and back-row stocks, with Doueihi offering both a fullback option and potential successor for veteran half Benji Marshall.

Both Canberra and the Rabbitohs are understood to be paying significant portions of the salaries for the elder Leilua and Doueihi in 2020.

They have also added former Rabbitohs prop Zane Musgrove after his two-year deal was approved by the NRL.

CEO Justin Pascoe told that the Tigers patience at market has been rewarded, and left them capable of going to market once more before the mid-season transfer cut-off on June 30.

"We've got 29 in our roster and so we need to have one more before June 30," Pascoe said.

Doueihi relieved to be 'back home' at Tigers

"Like we've been over the last four to five months we'll remain patient and strategic and make sure that we secure the type of player we want.

"It's been three or four years of hard work to get to a cap position where we're able to be aggressive in the market place.

"Yes we've still got some space there but we'll attack the last spot as we have all the others.

"We've identified that we wanted depth in the back row and the outside backs, and with Luciano, Joey and now Adam it makes for a really competitive roster internally.

"There's depth within positions and it means people have to really earn and fight for their spots."

The Tigers dominated headlines all summer with over $1 million in salary cap space following the release of Ryan Matterson to Parramatta and the medical retirement of Ben Matulino.

As well as landing the Leiluas, Doueihi and Musgrove, the club has re-signed rising youngsters Tommy Talau, Alex Twal and Luke Garner.

Highly rated Eels prop Stefano Utoikamanu is heading to the Tigers on a three-year deal from 2021, though Parramatta has rebuffed attempts to secure an early release for this season.

Further upheaval looms over the next 12 months as coach Michael Maguire reshapes his roster and the likes of Marshall, Chris Lawrence, Elijah Taylor and Chris McQueen come off contract, while Josh Reynolds's future is also clouded by domestic assault charges.

New Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis has found himself in the thick of player negotiations after originally thinking his role was "an honorary position with a couple of speeches a year".

Hagipantelis met Doueihi and his father along with Pascoe for breakfast last weekend as negotiations around the 21-year-old's exit from Redfern ramped up.

Joey Leilua relishing reunion with Luciano

The jury will remain out on the Tigers' forays into the market until their bid for a long-awaited return to finals football kicks off in March.

But with the Leiluas offering strike power on their respective edges and Doueihi coverage across several positions as well as another much-needed goalkicking option, the Tigers powerbrokers hope the signings will change perceptions around the club's recruitment.

"When you attract players of that calibre, it will attract other players too," Hagipantelis said.

We're a long way from finished with where we want to be.

Justin Pascoe

"It's something we're conscious of. It's a bit of a chicken and egg argument. You want good players but you've got to do well to attract the good players.

"It can be a difficult cycle but I think we've broken through that with these signings and re-signings as well in the talented roster that we've already got.

"It's a very exciting start to the new season."

Pascoe added: "We're a long way from finished with where we want to be as a football club, across the whole organisation. We've made a lot of inroads in the last four years but we've got a long way to go still.

"But I think the perception should be different to what it was a while back. We've got a proud history and a huge supporter base and we want to correlate that with consistent success."

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