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Amone inks new Dragons deal, Papali’i told to end contract speculation

St George Illawarra five-eighth Talatau Amone has signed a contract extension that will keep him at the club until at least the end of 2024.

Amone, 20, became the Dragons’ first-choice five-eighth this year after Corey Norman left the club and is enjoying a breakout season, having made his Test debut for Tonga and produced 12 try assists in 20 NRL games.

Amone had already been contracted until the end of 2023 but would have been free to negotiate with rivals from November 1.

The early contract extension is a strong endorsement from the Dragons, who will now turn their attention to re-signing his halves partner, Dally M Medal hopeful Ben Hunt.

“I am very proud to remain at the Dragons. It’s my home club and my family and I are very grateful for the opportunity,” Amone said.

“To see that the club believes in me to extend my time at the club definitely fills me with a lot of faith. I’m looking forward to repaying the Dragons back with good, consistent footy.”

Dragons general manager of football Ben Haran said the club felt Amone’s best was yet to come.

“While Talatau has demonstrated himself as a competent NRL player over the past 18 months, there is significant scope for further improvement over the coming two seasons,” Haran said.

Amone will line up at five-eighth when the Dragons face fellow top-eight hopefuls Canberra at GIO Stadium on Sunday.

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 03: Talatau Amone of the Dragons is tackled by Jack Wighton of the Raiders during the round 16 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium, on July 03, 2022, in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Junior Amone. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Papali’i told to end contract speculation

Eels star Isaiah Papali’i has been told to honour his contract with the Tigers by the RLPA while Wests captain James Tamou says the second-rower needs to put an end to speculation by making a call on his 2023 whereabout.

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur reiterated on Wednesday he would be happy for Papali’i to remain at the club while the Warriors are also an option as his partner, New Zealand netballer Elle Temu plays for the Auckland-based Northern Stars in the ANZ Premiership.

“We have told him and his management team to honour the contract…our expectations of players and also clubs is that they honour their contracts,” RLPA chief executive Clint Newton told SEN.

Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis insists he is confident Papali’i will stick to the three-year deal he signed last November, joining Penrith hooker Apisai Koroisau as the club’s big recruits for next season.

However reports emerged in July that Papali’i was considering going back on the move after his New Zealand national team coach Michael Maguire having been axed by the Tigers.

“He signed when ‘Madge’ was here, so he’s got every right to reassess his options,” Tamou said at the Tigers’ midweek media conference. “He was dealing with Madge, now he’s gone … now is the flow-on effect with these sorts of things happening.

“He’s got every reason to question ‘okay, where am I at now with this club?’ Obviously he’s had meetings with Madge and he’s come out publicly and said he’s the main reason for him to come to the Tigers.

“He has to make a decision, to give relief for the Tigers and for them to go searching.”

Parra are not trying to get him to break his contract but Arthur said: “If Ice wasn’t committed to the Tigers, I think his preference would be our club.”

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