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‘Benji’s way or the highway’: How Nofoaluma drama triggered Tigers’ ‘line in the sand’ moment

According to one NRL legend, it is “plain to see” what the message is after David Nofoaluma’s messy split with the Wests Tigers.

“It’s Benji’s way or the highway at Tiger Town,” former Panthers enforcer Mark Geyer said on Triple M, “and it’s just what they need”.

The Tigers, who finished the 2023 season in last place with just four wins, have been quick to make changes in a bid to improve on-field results, including the move to sign Jarome Luai.

New head coach Benji Marshall is said to have played a major role in landing Luai’s signature and it seems like the same goes for the decision to end the ugly Nofoaluma standoff.

The Tigers confirmed on Tuesday that Nofoaluma would be immediately parting ways with the club after a reported payout of $300,000 that will see him walk away from the final two years of his contract.

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“Nofoaluma walks away with $300,000 and another club will surely pick him up. It’s a win-win situation in my opinion,” Geyer said.

Broncos legend Wendell Sailor echoed similar sentiments to Geyer, declaring Nofoaluma’s exit an example that “Benji is going to do what he wants”.

“It is the start of a new era for not just the Tigers but Nofoaluma,” he added on Triple M.

After all, as The Daily Telegraph’s Michael Carayannis said on SEN 1170, this was the end of what has been an “ongoing saga” between Nofoaluma and the Tigers which went back “years”.

“I’m not exaggerating — years,” Carayannis added, “in terms of him not falling out of favour”.

Nofoaluma was understood to be on a deal worth around $525,000 a season, a price tag he has not lived up to in recent years with his defence in particular under the microscope.

The veteran winger was able to excel in the NRL after a loan move to Melbourne but struggled to replicate that form back with the struggling Tigers when he returned.

The Storm were interested in keeping Nofoaluma but according to Carayannis the Tigers wanted them to take on more of his contract if that was the case.

Benji Marshall is making a big impression. Picture: NRL PhotosSource: Supplied

“Melbourne would’ve kept him and paid a decent amount of the salary but the Tigers weren’t happy with how much they were going to chip in, thought they could get more out of him and brought him back,” Carayannis said.

“It just hasn’t worked. He’s been reprimanded multiple times for infringements for failing to turn up to training, training standards have been lacking. Benji Marshall has drawn a line in the sand, a former teammate of David Nofoaluma’s, and said, ‘Mate you will not play first grade under my watch, get out of here’.”

Carayannis went on to add that the Tigers had been trying for months to offload Nofoaluma to another club but had “no takers” and that the latest sanction accelerated his exit.

According to Carayannis, Marshall believed Nofoaluma’s presence and the associated ongoing drama was not having a “positive influence” on the playing group.

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“In the new year, it came to a head again, essentially it’s been breached again and the two parties have now agreed to a payout worth around $300,00 and I think for the Tigers, it’s probably a win for them and potentially for David Nofoaluma if he can get out of his comfort zone at the West Tigers [and] go to a strong club,” Carayannis said.

“The guy can play, at his best we know he’s a good finisher, damaging ball runner and he’s got an offload in him. But it just hasn’t worked over the last two or three years at the Tigers, he needs to move on. Benji Marshall just wanted him out of the club because he didn’t think he was a positive influence on the rest of the playing group.”

Source website: www.foxsports.com.au

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