Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipentalis will urge the NRL to create rules that stop players breaking contracts to cash in at rival clubs after prop Josh Aloiai stunned the joint-venture with a release request and scathing assessment.
Aloiai's manager Tyran Smith has asked for an immediate release after Manly are understood to have tabled a two-year deal, believed to be significantly more lucrative than the extension offered by the Tigers recently.
The news stunned Tigers officials given Aloiai's vocal support for Michael Maguire in recent years and his professed commitment to turning the club around.
But when negotiations around a two-year Tigers extension stalled, Aloiai's intentions were made clear in a text to a senior Tigers official that read: "I have no desire to represent the Wests Tigers organisation or put a Wests Tigers jersey on again".
Later on Monday night, Aloiai took to Instagram to show he was happier to operate a lawn mower rather than play for the Wests Tigers.
The reference can be seen as a reply to Hagipantelis' comment on Monday that: "As far as we're concerned he can mow the lawns at Leichhardt and Campbelltown and paint the sheds at Concord," rather than be granted a release.
Privately the Tigers believe Aloiai's release request stems from the Sea Eagles' own two-year contract for 2022-23 being contingent on him joining the club next season.
Manly CEO Stephen Humphreys denied any contingency exists.
NRL.com understands though that the club has salary cap space to accommodate Aloiai if he exits Concord early.
"We have a high regard for Josh, he's a fine player and a leader but he is contracted for 2021," Humphreys told NRL.com.
"We're interested in attracting him to our club, but all our discussions have been for 2022 and beyond. 2021 has not been mentioned in our conversations."
It is the second off-season in a row that the Tigers have been dragged into a contract dispute after Aloiai's close mate Ryan Matterson agitated for a release to join Parramatta 12 months ago.
Matterson is understood to have secured a six-figure pay rise in shifting to the Eels while also raising issues with Maguire's hardline coaching style.
The likes of David Klemmer (Canterbury to Newcastle) and Blake Green (Manly to the Warriors) are others that have sought releases to earn more money elsewhere in recent seasons.
By the same token, clubs often shop players to rival clubs before they come off-contract, with the Tigers having looked to offload big earners Josh Reynolds and Russell Packer without success in recent years.
Matterson's acrimonious exit from Concord last year has however already raised suggestions of contract rule changes this off-season.
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Hagipentalis plans to meet with NRL CEO Andrew Abdo next week urging reform that prevents clubs offering more money than they currently earn to players under contract.
"My personal view is that if it's a release on whatever grounds, the player should not be seeking to gain a commercial advantage elsewhere," Hagipentalis told NRL.com.
"If you're earning X at Club A, then to go to Club B they should only be earning X at Club B.
"I think it leaves a sour taste in the mouth of our fans and members at all clubs when this occurs.
"If it's legitimate compassionate grounds it should be treated as such, with the respect and discretion it deserves.
"But if there's a player earning more money by getting that release, the inference is that compassionate grounds are being used to exit a contract to seek a commercial advantage.
"That should not be allowed to occur."
Aloiai has played 90 games for Wests Tigers since debuting in 2016, rising to the Samoan national side in recent years and starting at prop all 18 games he played in the shortened 2020 season.
The Tigers have Panthers veteran James Tamou and highly rated Eels recruit Stefano Utoikamanu joining them up front in 2021.
Their pack also includes the likes of Zane Musgrove, Alex Twal, Thomas Mikaele and Packer.
Hagipentalis said the Tigers won't be releasing Aloiai unless the club stands to gain an advantage from it.
"Unless there is very good reason why a release should be granted, that is some very significant commercial advantage to Wests Tigers, a release will not be granted," he said.
"If you read between the lines, this is a commercial dispute between a contracted player and their club because of an opportunity to earn more money elsewhere. We're not swallowing it."