June 24, 2024

Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has provided insight into the unexpected decision to exclude winger Sunia Turuva from last night’s game against the North Queensland Cowboys. Turuva, dropped from the lineup just an hour before kickoff, had recently opted to join the Wests Tigers on a three-year contract, declining a new deal with the Panthers.

In his place, recruit Paul Alamoti stepped in. Cleary explained that Turuva’s ongoing contract negotiations had become a distraction, prompting the decision to sideline him. However, Cleary assured that Turuva would return for Round 9.

“Sunia’s absence from the game was primarily due to his ongoing contract discussions,” Cleary stated post-match. “These negotiations have been ongoing for several weeks, and the emotional toll on a young player facing such a significant decision shouldn’t be underestimated.

“We felt it was best to give him the night off. He will be back next week.”

Scheduled to rejoin the lineup next week, displacing Paul Alamoti to the reserves, Turuva recently confirmed his decision to join the Wests Tigers until the conclusion of the 2027 season, following teammate Jarome Luai’s footsteps.

PNG v Fiji - Men's International

Joining his cousin Apisai Koroisau, former teammate Charlie Staines, and international colleague Jahream Bula, Turuva has garnered praise from Benji Marshall, who described him as “electric.”

It’s anticipated that Turuva will fill the void left by winger Junior Tupou, who is set to depart the club for The Dolphins at season’s end.

“Sunia is a valuable addition to our club going forward,” Marshall stated in a club announcement. “He brings championship experience, versatility, and infectious energy to the field every time he plays. Moreover, he’s a person of exemplary character with strong values.

“We eagerly await Sunia and his family’s arrival at the club.”


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