Kikau is off contract in 2023 – which means clubs can start negotiating with him on November 1.
The Cowboys and Dragons have already expressed interest in chatting with the 26-year-old line-breaking forward – and Penrith know they may have to let Kikau go due to salary cap issues.
The Panthers have a host of good young players they need to upgrade and will struggle to match Kikau’s asking price of over $800,000 a season.
Only yesterday, Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher said Kikau was close to signing a new deal – but I think that is wishful thinking and the towering second-rower will test the market.
I’m hearing Brisbane are keen to have a crack at Kikau, believing they can offer him the chance to continue to play finals footy – something that is no guarantee at the Cowboys or Dragons.
The Broncos have the power and influence – and ability to offer lucrative third-party deals – to make a genuine play for Kikau.
After several lean years, the Broncos are determined to again become an NRL powerhouse and snaring a player with the strike power of Kikau would be a massive step in that direction.
Overseas rugby union clubs are also believed to be interested in talking to the big forward.
Lifeline for Woods
Word around clubland is that Aaron Woods won’t be getting the fairytale finish to his career back at Wests Tigers.
A local junior who played nearly 150 games for the club before stints at the Bulldogs and Sharks, Woods has been linked with a return to the Tigers for several months.
The 30-year-old former New South Wales and Australian prop isn’t getting a new deal at Cronulla and seemed a good fit for the struggling Tigers.
But club officials have decided against going back to the future in 2022.
Woods isn’t out in the cold, however – Manly are believed to be interested in giving the bearded prop a one year deal.
Tug of war between Sharks and Raiders
Cronulla and Canberra are fighting a two-way battle for giant young prop Tom Hazelton.
A 22-year-old from Goulburn, Hazelton has played the last couple of seasons for the Sharks’ feeder club Newtown.
At 198 cm and 114 kilos, Hazelton is the ideal size for the modern day front-rower and was a standout in the NSW Cup before COVID brought the competition to a halt.
The prop played a couple of first grade trials for the Sharks at the start of the year and just missed getting graded.
But now Canberra are showing interest, they may miss out on the big man.
Rookie divides coach and senior players
There was an interesting secret meeting last week between a coach and two of his senior players.
The players asked the coach to bench one of the club’s brightest young stars because he had been struggling for form after a great start to the season.
The coach didn’t listen – and went with the rookie – who again was only average in the game.
Can anyone guess who he is?
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