Sunia Turuva opens up on Benji Marshall act that sealed Tigers move amid huge Dragons revelation

The Panthers winger revealed he signed with the Tigers after their round seven performance against Penrith.

Sunia Turuva has revealed he decided to sign with the Wests Tigers after their gritty showing against his current team Penrith persuaded him to choose the joint venture over the Dragons. The Red V were originally heading the charge for the Fijian international but the Tigers successfully swooped in, with the winger agreeing to a three-year deal worth around $450,000 a year.

With his Penrith deal expiring at the end of 2024 and the Panthers refusing to match lucrative offers from rival clubs, last year's Dally M rookie of the year was viewed as one of the hottest properties on the open market earlier this season. The 21-year-old was favourite to sign with Shane Flanagan's Dragons for weeks before the Tigers nabbed him right at the end. And while Turuva admits it was a close call between the two clubs says the joint venture's improvements under Benji Marshall sealed his move to Concord.

Sunia Turuva pictured right and Benji Marshall left
Sunia Turuva revealed he decided to sign with the Tigers after watching their gritty round seven performance against Penrith. Image: Getty

"It was close," Turuva said about which team he would choose. "All eyes were on Dragons and I had a few chats with them. If it wasn't Tigers it would be Dragons."

But as negotiations heated up in round seven Turuva faced the team he will now soon join. While the Panthers ran away fairly comfortable 22-6 victors, the winger says it was the determination and clear improvements under Marshall that convinced him that is where he should play moving forward.


"The scoreboard might not have shown it but they made us fight for it," Turuva said. "Results haven't been going their way but they've been hanging in there for 80 minutes, when in previous years they've given up.

"I can definitely see, from the outside looking in, that they're heading in the right direction. That's something that encouraged me to go with them."

As Turuva was stressing over where to sign for next year, Ivan Cleary made the call to leave him out of the Panthers' round-eight away clash against North Queensland so he could take time to decide on his future. And Turuva says if it wasn't for the coach's decision he would likely still be at the negotiation table.

"Big ups to 'Ive' for letting me have that week off to deal with that stuff," he said. "It would have kept dragging on if he didn't, I'd still be in the decision mode now." In the end, Turuva bought into the Tigers' new direction.

The Tigers' signing of Turuva is the latest in an ongoing rebuild under coach Marshall and chief executive Shane Richardson, who have also lured Turuva's Penrith teammate Jarome Luai for 2025. The pair will also join former Penrith hooker Api Koroisau who left the Panthers to join the Tigers at the end of the 2022 season.

BATHURST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 20:  Sunia Turuva of the Panthers celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round seven NRL match between Penrith Panthers and Wests Tigers at Carrington Park on April 20, 2024, in Bathurst, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Sunia Turuva signed a $350,000 a year deal with the Wests Tigers from 2025.

with AAP