Panthers left fuming as leaked photo confirms Gus and Dogs shock $3.2m raid
The Bulldogs have landed another recruitment coup, securing the prized signature of Panthers star Viliame Kikau from 2023.
The Bulldogs have beaten out the Cowboys and St George Illawarra to secure one of NRL’s best edge forwards on a four-year deal.
The contract is worth around $800,000 per season and eclipsed out the Dragons’ three-year offer, according to The Daily Telegraph.
But Dogs are fuming after a photo of Kikau, coach Trent Barrett and Canterbury general manager Phil Gould all wearing the club’s famous blue and white was leaked on Friday.
The Bulldogs have launched an investigation to determine who could have taken a screenshot from a club security camera, according to Nine’s Danny Weidler.
And they’re not the only ones seeing red. According to Michael Chammas from Nine Newspapers, Panthers officials are not impressed Kikau posed up ahead of the club’s parade.
Penrith officials were confident they’d keep the 26-year-old who has a close relation with Bulldogs coach and former Panthers assistant Barrett.
Viliame Kikau poses in Bulldogs kit with coach Trent Barrett.Source: Getty Images
The Dogs collected the wooden spoon this year in Barrett’s first season at the helm but he went to work overhauling the roster.
He’s added Matt Burton, Brent Naden, Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Dufty, Paul Vaughan, Tevita Pangai Jr, Josh Cook, John Asiata, Max King and Braidon Burns for the 2022 season.
They are also in the mix to sign Eels hooker Reed Mahoney and are quickly building one of the most star-studded squads in the NRL.
Kikau has played in the past two grand finals for Penrith, winning this year, and has made 98 appearances for the club since debuting in 2017.
Kikau has played 11 Test matches for Fiji and is one of the most exciting players in the game, but there’s a silver lining for the premiers.
It means Penrith now likely have the cash to retain hooker Api Koroisau who is currently testing his value on the open market.
The No. 9 - who made his Blues debut this year - was reportedly told he couldn’t be extended past next season but that was before the latest Kikau development.
The Panthers were expected to retain Kikau, who has developed into one of the most talented forwards in the competition.
“We’re very confident that we will be able to come to an agreement with his management and have him on the roster for another three or four years as well,” Panthers chief executive Brian Fletcher said in September.
“Every indication is that he’ll be staying.
“A lot of players like to take a little bit of a discount to play with a side that’s going well, so I think he comes under that category.”