A podcaster has leaked a text message exchange they had with Wests Tigers boss Lee Hagipantelis in reponse to his requests to have the club chairman join the show.
Rob Bechara, the host of the Westslife podcast, has been accused by Hagipantelis of leaking text convesations with the pair in which the under siege Tigers boss tells the host in no uncertain terms that he will not be appearing on the show.
The Tigers have been mired in a disappointing campign in 2022, letting embattled coach Michael Maguire go earlier this season and losing the two games stand-in coach Brett Kimmorley has helmed.
The leak of the texts couldn't have come at a worse time for the Tigers, with club veteran Luke Books set to be dropped from the side for the first time in his career amid the 3-11 season.
In the leaked messages, Hagipantelis bluntly tells Bechara, who he says is not a member of the club, that he has no interest in appearing on the show after claiming he had 'never seen you post anything positive about the club.'
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Westslife podcast is downloaded roughly 3000 times per week.
A furious Hagipantelis accused Bechara of promoting 'disgraceful' views about the club and staff.
“What could possibly convince me to go on your podcast given the vitriol and abuse you have directed to the Wests Tigers in general but to individuals within the organisation in particular?” Hagipantelis wrote.
“How you call yourself a fan of the club is difficult to understand. You do nothing but criticise. I have never seen you post anything positive about the club.
“We are not immune to legitimate criticism. But the venom with which you spew forth your abuse is disconcerting if not disgraceful.”
Wests Tigers boss' furious text exchange with podcaster leaked
In Hagipantelis' lengthy exchange with Bechara, he also accused the podcast host of hypocrisy after criticising club officials for stories that have leaked to media, while also claiming to have his own anonymous sources within the club.
The messages also revealed Bechara had encouraged listeners to contact the club chairman directly, sharing his direct email address on the show - something Hagipantelis labelled a 'failed attempt to inconvenience or intimidate'.
Declaring the club was not above criticism, Hagipantelis nevertheless said Bechara's criticism was broadly unhelpful and crossed a line.
"As to your kind invitation to appear on your podcast, I decline so that you can comfortably continue with venting your spleen, which obviously appeases your need to be relevant,” he wrote.
“From my perspective, you are not of any utility to my role as chair or the club itself.
“You are perfectly entitled to your opinion, but it carries no weight whatsoever. It may have if you had even committed to become a member and put your money where your mouth is. You don’t even do that.”
Kimmorley said he was pleased with Adam Doueihi on his return from an ACL injury in last weekend's loss to the Bulldogs.
The Tigers' best player last season, Doueihi came on from the bench late in the game but is expected to play a bigger role in coming weeks.
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