Titans pull out of race for Tuqiri - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Titans pull out of race for Tuqiri

By David Beniuk 28/02/2007 07:44:02 PM Comments (0)

Gold Coast pulled out of the race to sign Wallaby Lote Tuqiri, leaving just two NRL clubs interested in the barnstorming winger's signature.

Tuqiri, who is deciding whether to return to league after this year's Rugby World Cup, is now likely to choose between Super 14 franchises NSW and Queensland and NRL clubs the Sharks and South Sydney.

The Titans released a statement saying they would not be tabling an offer.

"Gold Coast Titans managing director Michael Searle has this afternoon advised Lote Tuqiri's business mentor Les Ross that the club will not be submitting a formal offer for the dual international's services," the statement read.

"After several productive meetings between the two parties Searle said the Jetstar Titans commitment to junior development and retention forced his hand on the matter.

"We have made a commitment to the community to invest in and develop the region's junior talent, and unfortunately securing Lote's signature could have restricted our ability to provide NRL pathways for our youth."

Tuqiri's hefty price tag - reportedly in the vicinity of $600,000 a year - has NRL clubs baulking, with the league's $4 million salary cap already forcing the Sydney Roosters to quit the race and Brisbane to all but confirm they are also unable to table an offer.

However, Rabbitohs executive chairman Peter Holmes a Court was reportedly in a meeting with Ross and NRL chief executive David Gallop, believed to be discussing options for securing the 27-year-old's switch.

The Sharks have also begun investigating their third-party financing options in an attempt to come up with an offer for Tuqiri.

The Australian Rugby Union is expected to table a three-year $2.4 million offer this week, complete with a deadline for Tuqiri's signature.

Wallaby star Matt Giteau said rugby union could not afford to lose Tuqiri.

"He's obviously pretty important and not just because it's a World Cup year this year, I think for years to come," Giteau told the Nine Network.

"He's been playing really well and he's consistently a good player for the wallabies and I don't think they can afford to lose him."

One time rugby target Mark Gasnier said he'd understand if Tuqiri was getting bored with the 15-man game.

Tuqiri hasn't given any indication he is bored, but speculation is mounting that the Australian Super 14 sides' try drought is turning league-raised backs off the game.

Asked if limited touches of the footy could be a factor in Tuqiri's decision, St George Illawarra star Gasnier said: "I think that's the reality of it, I know that was definitely a concern of mine that I spoke to many coaches about when I was thinking of the transition."

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