Rugby League

Joseph Tapine's manager confident of Raiders move from this season

Joseph Tapine's manager Jim Banaghan is confident Newcastle will allow him to begin his rich Canberra deal this season, which would tie the back-rower to the Raiders until the end of 2020.

Banaghan said the Raiders had become an "attractive destination point" after Tapine found the magnitude of Canberra's offer - and coach Ricky Stuart's blueprint for the future - too hard to refuse.

Top deal: Joseph Tapine looks set to join Canberra this season.
Top deal: Joseph Tapine looks set to join Canberra this season.  Photo: Jonathan Carroll

The 21-year-old has agreed to a three-year contract, with a fourth year in his favour, from 2017.

But if he joins the Raiders in the next two weeks as expected, Banaghan confirmed it would effectively be five years.

Tapine did not train with the Knights squad on Friday, with coach Nathan Brown non-committal when asked whether he would cut the Junior Kiwi loose early.

But Banaghan said negotiations so far suggest Tapine will be wearing green this year.

"I haven't spoken to them [clubs] about that at the moment but as things are unfolding, I would be of the belief Joseph would be granted a release this year to come to Canberra," Banaghan said. "Canberra just has to work out how they can fit him in, and where they can fit him in.

"It's a three-year deal plus a [one-year] option his way, a four-year contract, but if he signs this year it'll be a five-year deal.

Newcastle couldn't get anywhere near the Raiders' huge offer for Tapine, who was brought there by current Canberra recruitment boss Peter Mulholland when he was at the Knights.

The Raiders are also favourite to lure Parramatta prop Junior Paulo to the club from next season on a three-year deal, which would add to a pack already full of youthful quality.

The likes of Paul Vaughan (24), Shannon Boyd (23), Josh Papalii (23) and Josh Hodgson (26) are yet to reach their peak.

"He's an unbelievable buy for Canberra, it's quite incredible how they've turned that club around," Banaghan said. "It's now an attractive destination point, not a point of last return.

"There's a huge rap on Joseph and five clubs were in for him. He was very appreciative of everything Newcastle has done for him and he never thought he was going to leave.

"But the Raiders offer and Ricky's presentation was so incredible he embraced it, and he took it."

The Raiders play Newcastle in a trial match at Orange on February 20, but it seems unlikely Tapine would make his Canberra debut against his old club.

Under new NRL rules, he has a 10-day cooling off period before the contract is official.

"There won't be anything done in that [cooling off] time going forward, but I anticipate after that common sense will rule," Banaghan said. "I'm strongly of the belief it will be done within the next two weeks."

Tapine will become the third Knight to join the Raiders in less than a year, joining centre Joey Leilua and hooker Adam Clydsdale.

Newcastle inserted a clause in Leilua's Canberra contract that prevented him from playing against them when he left midway through last season.

But Banaghan insisted it would not be the case with Tapine if he plays for Canberra in 2016.

"This is 2016 not 1916, there will be none of that rubbish in anything that we do," he said.

Brown was non committal when asked whether Tapine would be released immediately on Friday.

"We're comfortable with what's happened with Joe and I know Joe's comfortable," Brown said.

"Everyone is disappointed obviously, but with the size of the offer Joe received, everyone's very happy for him. It's a life-changing offer for Joe and his family.

"We're disappointed, but on the other hand we're happy the club has played a part in helping a kid move forward in his life."

RAIDERS REBUILD

Players Ricky Stuart has recruited to the Raiders: Blake Austin, Adam Clydsdale, Josh Hodgson, Joey Leilua, Jeff Lima, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Aidan Sezer, Zac Santo, Sisa Waqa, Sia Soliola, Elliott Whitehead, Joseph Tapine.