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James Tamou has warned Wests Tigers could struggle to prise Cameron Ciraldo away from Penrith despite believing he is the perfect man to replace Michael Maguire.
Tamou spent four years working with Ciraldo at Penrith before moving to the Tigers last season, having played under him as both an assistant and interim coach.
Ciraldo is expected to be the Tigers' No.1 target after axing Maguire earlier this week, with head of football Tim Sheens clear he wants a development coach.
Tamou has backed the move, believing Ciraldo is the best development coach in the league and would be the ideal person to lead the Tigers' up-and-coming stars.
But he finds it hard to believe Ciraldo himself will want to leave Penrith, having coached several of the current stars from their days in juniors.
"I love the Tigers and I love Ciro, and for that to come together would be the perfect storm," the Tigers co-captain said.
"Sheensy and the front office are doing everything they can to make that happen.
"But at the moment at Penrith he has built that there with the young junior system.
"I don't think he wants to leave too early. They have a great opportunity there to do something special.
"He has put four or five years into that group and look where they are now. So I don't think he wants to give that up in a hurry."
Ciraldo's contract as a Penrith assistant is up this year, with the Panthers already moving to try and lock him in for 2023 while accepting he could take a top job elsewhere.
Ivan Cleary's decision to re-sign with the club until the end of 2027 has effectively confirmed Ciraldo will have to move elsewhere to be a head coach in the NRL.
As things stand, he would likely have the pick of the jobs in the NRL with Canterbury, the Warriors and Tigers all hunting a coach as well as any others that pop up.
Of the three available, the Tigers are likely the most appealing.
The club has signed Apisai Koroisau and Isaah Papali'i for next year, while their juniors won the under-17s Harold Matthews Cup this year.
And it is with that next generation Tamou believes Ciraldo would be best suited.
"The things I have seen him do. The respect he has, the connection he has," Tamou said.
"Obviously it helps when you have the same group of boys coming in juniors coming into the first-grade system. That's a massive help.
"That's all on the individual aspect on how they want to work hard for him. That is the best thing, how they want to put their best foot forward for him.
"That type of respect is unheard of."
Tamou, meanwhile, backed Maguire to return as a head coach elsewhere, calling him on Wednesday to make it clear the players knew they were to blame for his exit given their poor performances.