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Nofoaluma OUT at Tigers after record-breaking decade of service following brutal Benji blow-up

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23rd January, 2024
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Club record tryscorer David Nofoaluma has officially departed the Wests Tigers after his simmering tension with new coach Benji Marshall came to a head on Tuesday.

After threatening to sack the winger following a series of breach notices, the Tigers have agreed to a $300,000 payout that ends over a decade of service and has announced “club and player have agreed to terminate the contract by mutual consent, effect immediately”.

The former Samoa international had two years left on a deal with $500,000 per season, guaranteeing him at least $1m from the Tigers, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, and had been previously unwilling to take the cash on offer to leave.

He was set for a legal showdown with the club after they attempted to terminate his deal by serving a second breach notice to the player, at least his third in the last three years.

The Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) had stepped in and the matter was set to escalate to board level, before a severance package was agreed.

“We thank David for all that he has given to this club over the past decade,” said interim CEO Shane Richardson in the club statement. “We wish David all the very best with his future.”

It has been reported that Marshall had told Nofoaluma that he would not be considered for the NRL team again, consigning him to reserve grade for the remainder of his deal with the club.

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The winger, who made close to 200 appearances for the club and was their all-time top tryscorer, has been on the outer at Concord following a bust-up with former teammate Marshall over physical fitness standards at the beginning of pre-season.

Nofoaluma was served with a breach notice late last year after he refused to train, citing unfair treatment and victimisation by coaching staff.

He had been one of the worst performers in early pre-season, failing to meet the new levels set by incoming coach Marshall.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

He was sanctioned a second time under Marshall after failing to follow illness procedures early last week. Nofaluma reported in sick but was uncontactable by club medical staff for two days, with the Tigers sending a player to his house to check on his welfare.

Previously, he had been sanctioned for bring unable to complete a training session under Michael Maguire due to a hangover following a wedding.

Nofoaluma played 17 times last year, scoring five tries, but had been on the outer before that with a short loan spell at the Melbourne Storm in 2022.

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The Tigers have been attempting to find a new club for the player, but have been unable to find a taker. Now, Nofoaluma is free to negotiate and will have offers from both Australia and the Super League.

The 30-year-old’s exit will cap a period of rapid squad overhaul, with only one player remaining from former coach Michael Maguire’s first season in charge in 2019.

That man is Alex Twal, who late last year was given permission to look elsewhere before soon after being locked into a three-year extension. So brutal has been the turnover at the Tigers, all of the other 25 players used in the 2019 season have left the club.

Only Twal, Nofoaluma Adam Doueihi and Asu Kepaoa remain from the 2020 pre-season. Six players from 2021, when current squad members Stefano Utoikamanu and Jake Simpkin first played for the club, are still at Concord.

The rate of turnover is only matched by fellow cellar-dwellers Canterbury, and sums up the two teams’ long battle to return to the finals.

Players remaining with their club from 2019

Sydney Roosters: 10
Canberra: 10
Manly: 9
Penrith: 9
North Queensland: 8
Melbourne: 7
South Sydney: 7
Parramatta: 6
Cronulla: 6
Warriors: 6
Brisbane: 4
Newcastle: 4
St George Illawarra: 4
Gold Coast: 3
Canterbury: 1
Wests Tigers: 1

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