EXCLUSIVE: Jeremiah Nanai’s manager says it’s ‘hard to see’ young gun leaving the Cowboys as club faces huge battle to re-sign him after announcing himself as one of NRL’s hottest talents with stunning hat-trick
- Cowboys second-rower Jeremiah Nanai is off contract at the end of 2022
- He has announced himself as one of the hottest players on the NRL market
- Several clubs are circling the boom forward and have reportedly made offers
- However both his manager and coach are optimistic Nanai will stay in NQ
The already strong interest in North Queensland boom backrower Jeremiah Nanai has gone stratospheric after his three-try performance against the Brisbane Broncos on Sunday – but the Cowboys are in the box seat to keep him at the club.
With rival teams circling, the pressure is on the Cowboys to re-sign the 19-year-old who has been dubbed the game’s next superstar and co-captain Jason Taumalolo’s heir apparent.
Nanai dives over for a try against the Broncos on Sunday. He was the Cowboys’ best in a three-try performance that has positioned him as one of the best off-contract players in the NRL
Nanai’s manager Sam Ayoub said a number of clubs had expressed interest in the barnstorming second-rower, but his preference was to remain at the Cowboys as long as they ‘come to the party’.
‘We’ve had some promising talks with both the Cowboys and a number of clubs,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘It’s a process. There’s certainly been a wonderful amount of interest.
‘In January I suggested that we leave it to round four to six before we start talking. That gives him an opportunity to play some footy and gives us an opportunity to establish his value.
‘We’ve got to look at terms, we’ve got to look at his desires and at this stage his preference – and I have been making it clear to the clubs who have enquired – that his family is up in Cairns and he has been settled in Townsville for three years now.
‘Providing the Cowboys come to the party, it’s hard to see him going anywhere.’
Nanai had a dream debut for the Cowboys in 2021, scoring a try and having a big impact against the Wests Tigers who are now trying to sign him.
Wests Tigers are reportedly chasing the Cowboys star, especially after losing second-rower Luciano Leilua to North Queensland in 2023.
Fox Sports has reported that the Tigers have offered Nanai a deal worth $600,000.
Nanai made his NRL debut against the Tigers in 2021 and made a big impression with a try and several charging runs.
The Sunday Mail in Queensland has also reported that expansion club the Dolphins are also trying to secure Nanai to complement senior trio Jesse and Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi.
Cowboys coach Todd Payten also said they were ‘cautiously optimistic’ they would retain the teenager when he spoke to media following their big win over the Brisbane Broncos on Sunday.
‘We’ve had conversations with his management and the management have asked us to hold off until round six, and we’re just fulfilling their wishes,’ he said.
‘I’m cautiously optimistic about us keeping him. I know that this is the right club for him.
‘He’s got some ability, and he’s still learning. He’s only been 19 for about two or three weeks, so I’m really excited about what he can offer our club, and he makes us a better team when he’s playing.
‘He makes the players around him better too, so for a kid at his age to look as comfortable as he does at times is exciting.’
Nanai (centre) is part of a crop of promising North Queensland stars at the Cowboys now including Origin representative Hamiso Tabui-Fidow (right)
Payten said that Nanai had been a standout through his junior football days as well and other clubs had been making enquiries before his breakout NRL match on Sunday.
‘Most clubs have smart recruitment and understand what ability he has,’ he said.
‘I wouldn’t say he’s jumped out of the ground, but he’s been high in schoolboy (football) for a number of years before he’s hit first grade, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to other clubs.’
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