Nofoaluma returns to Tigers training … but only as a spectator

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David Nofoaluma returned to Wests Tigers training at Concord on Monday, but only as a spectator as a calf injury ruled him out of taking part in a field session.

The club’s all-time top try-scorer had refused to train because of perceived unfair treatment. Sources with knowledge of the situation speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the confidential nature of discussions believe Nofoaluma may not play with the Tigers in 2024.

Nofoaluma, who wants to remain at the club, only agreed to return to training after he met with officials from the Tigers and Rugby League Players’ Association last Thursday night.

RLPA representatives Jamie Buhrer and Sia Soliola spoke with Nofoaluma at the end of Monday’s training session. The RLPA later said the representatives had been there to address the entire playing group, and not to follow up on the Nofoaluma matter.

Nofoaluma, who is one of the Tigers’ best-paid players on a $500,000-a-year deal until the end of 2025, appeared in good spirits but declined to comment when approached by this masthead.

The 30-year-old winger has struggled since returning to pre-season training, to the point he failed to beat home some front-rowers in a time trial.

David Nofoaluma chats with RLPA representative Sia Soliola on Monday.Credit: Christian Nicolussi

New coach Benji Marshall, who played alongside Nofoaluma during his second stint at the Tigers between 2018-2020, has made it known to the group that no player is guaranteed a starting spot and that hard work over the summer will be the only thing he considers when it comes to picking his NRL side in round one.

Marshall would not comment on the matter when approached, nor would Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe.

Nofoaluma was loaned to the Melbourne Storm at the end of 2022, but struggled to recapture his form last season and spent time in reserve grade. He missed the final game of the year against Manly because of illness.

The Tigers are aware they would need to contribute to any deal Nofoaluma could broker elsewhere, but there has been little interest from rival NRL clubs nor the Super League.

The winger has been sidelined by a calf injuryCredit: Getty

Further complicating negotiations with prospective clubs is the fact Nofoaluma is in the middle of re-negotiating a new contract with his management company

Meanwhile, the Wests Ashfield board will meet on Tuesday night, with an independent review into the corporate governance of the joint venture likely to be ratified by the Holman Barnes Group, the controlling faction on the Tigers board.

It has been widely reported the Holman Barnes Group, who provide four of the seven directors to the Tigers, have given thought to scrapping the board, including chairman Lee Hagipantelis, and starting again.

That remains an option, but sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed nothing had been rubber-stamped, and there remained an outside chance there was no need for change at all.

The review was instigated after the Tigers missed out on an eleventh straight NRL finals series.

The Tigers also confirmed they had signed Solomon Alaimalo, a 27-year-old outside back who had spent the past few seasons playing Super Rugby with the Waikato Chiefs. Alaimalo, the 2017 Chiefs rookie of the year, trained with the Tigers for the first time on Monday.

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