Rugby League

Joseph Tapine tipped to leave Newcastle immediately after signing with Raiders

Newcastle is poised to grant Joseph Tapine an immediate release after the back-rower signed a lucrative three-year deal with Canberra.

Tapine ended speculation over his future after doing a Raiders deal believed to be worth almost $1.5 million. While the contract comes into effect from 2017, it's understood Knights coach Nathan Brown will allow the 21-year-old to shift immediately.

Off to Canberra: Joseph Tapine.
Off to Canberra: Joseph Tapine. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

The Knights were desperate to keep Tapine, a promising prospect who played 20 NRL games for the club, in the Hunter. However, the Raiders offer was significantly higher and continues an impressive period of recruitment under coach Ricky Stuart.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to set myself up and look after my family," Tapine said.

"I've been a fan of how Canberra play and Ricky coaches, I've done a lot of homework and watch a lot of their games.

"I'm very grateful to Newcastle for the way they have assisted me throughout my career. My mum and I have loved it here, it's been a wonderful three years since we left Wellington. I was always hopeful of staying here but an opportunity like this is too good to knock back.


"Nathan Brown was very good about it, he congratulated me and understood the situation, which means a lot."

If, as expected, Tapine immediately shifts to the Raiders, he will join a list of 2016 recruits headed by Aidan Sezer, Elliott Whitehead, Adam Clydsdale and Jeff Lima. Canberra is also keen to snare Parramatta prop Junior Paulo.

Brown reportedly indicated Tapine could be demoted to the NSW Cup if he didn't accept the club's contract extension. The situation had shades of the stand-off between Wests Tigers and Robbie Farah, prompting the Rugby League Player's Association to monitor the situation. It now appears the best result for both parties will be for Tapine to enjoy a fresh start and for the Knights to use the salary cap space to explore other options. Newcastle has been linked to unwanted Bulldog Tony Williams, who is coming back from a serious injury and in the last year of a lucrative Canterbury contract.

"Our club made Joseph a significant offer that took into consideration his career to date, potential and the current player market, and while disappointed with the outcome we are comfortable with our process," Knights CEO Matt Gidley said.

"We understand how difficult a decision this has been for Joseph and wish him the best for the future."