Friday, June 14, 2024
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Cleary explains shock axing of Turuva

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has explained the shock axing of winger Sunia Turuva from the weekend fixture against the North Queensland Cowboys.

Turuva was dropped an hour before the start of the match, after turning his back on inking a new deal with the Panthers to sign a three-year contract with the Wests Tigers beginning next season.

Replaced by recruit Paul Alamoti, Cleary revealed that the 2023 Dally M Rookie of the Year was left out of the team due to his contract negotiations becoming a distraction – however, he will return for Round 9.

“Sunia didn’t play mainly because he was going through his contract decision and still negotiating,” Cleary said after the match.

“So it was something that has been sort of going on for a few weeks. I think people don’t quite understand how much that can take out of someone, especially a young man with such a big decision.

“Not just professionally wise but emotionally. That’s why we gave him the night off.

“He will be back next week.”

Set to make his return next week – pushing Paul Alamoti back to the reserves – Turuva confirmed earlier in the week that he would follow teammate Jarome Luai to the Wests Tigers until the end of the 2027 season.

Linking up with cousin Apisai Koroisau, ex-teammate Charlie Staines and international teammate Jahream Bula, Turuva has been described as “electric” by Benji Marshall.

It is understood that he will likely take the vacant spot left by winger Junior Tupou who will depart the club for The Dolphins at the end of the season.

“Sunia is a great signing for us as a club moving forward.” Marshall said in a club statement confirming the news.

“He is a premiership winner and a genuine footy player who also has great versatility.

“He is electric and brings great energy to the field every time he plays. Most of all he is a great person with great values.

“We look forward to welcoming Sunia and his family to the club.”

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports | news@fijilive.com

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