NRL 2022: Wests Tigers confirm meeting with Cameron Ciraldo, Api Koroisau backs young coach

Panthers hooker Api Koroisau would “love” it if Wests Tigers could secure Cameron Ciraldo as coach next season as the club confirmed its first meeting with the in-demand Penrith assistant.

Penrith star Api Koroisau has thrown his support behind the Wests Tigers’ pursuit of Cameron Ciraldo, and would “love” for them to reunite at Concord next season.

Koroisau, who had originally signed to play under Michael Maguire, revealed he had been informed of the club’s decision prior to his dramatic departure last week.

“I was in (State of Origin) camp and I got the news before I read it anywhere, which is really good,” Koroisau said. “At the end of the day, it’s a tough job for anyone in that kind of business. The Tigers made their call, but it is what it is.”

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Wests Tigers have held their first formal meeting with Cameron Ciraldo. Picture: Getty Images
Wests Tigers have held their first formal meeting with Cameron Ciraldo. Picture: Getty Images

But in a twist of fate, Koroisau could instead be coached by the Panthers’ current assistant in Ciraldo, who is widely considered the league’s next coach-in-waiting.

Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis confirmed the club held its first meeting with Ciraldo on Monday, where he was taking through the soon-to-be opened centre of excellence.

Canterbury are also believed to be interested in the former second-rower.

Tigers powerbrokers including Hagipantelis, head of football Tim Sheens and chief executive Justin Pascoe met with Ciraldo as the club plans to put together a deal as long as five years.

“I’m not comfortable denying what’s true,” Hagipantelis said on SEN.

“I will say no comment. The interview and recruitment process should be confidential.

Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis confirmed his club had met with Cameron Ciraldo.
Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis confirmed his club had met with Cameron Ciraldo.

“Cameron’s name had been thrown up. I’ve received two resumes. I don’t want it being played out (publicly) – I’m not comfortable denying what I know to be true.”

Koroisau described Ciraldo, in charge of defence at Penrith, as an incredible coach, having guided the club to the best defensive record in the league.

They also boasted the best defence on their march to last year’s premiership.

“He’s an assistant coach here but he pretty much does all the ”D”, and he makes sure he does it his way,” Koroisau said.

“That’s the way he takes all the accountability on himself, too. Just leadership in that respect ... incredible. He changes it up too. It’s never the same.

“He’s always making sure the boys are really paying attention and he’ll change things up to make sure that happens. I got huge wraps on him as a man, as a leader, and as a coach.”

Api Koroisau would “love” Cameron Ciraldo to join him at Wests Tigers next season. Picture: Robb Cox/NRL Photos
Api Koroisau would “love” Cameron Ciraldo to join him at Wests Tigers next season. Picture: Robb Cox/NRL Photos

Asked whether he wanted him at the Tigers next year, Koroisau said: “I’d love him.”

Ciraldo took control of the Panthers in Ivan Cleary’s absence during their 42-6 win against Newcastle on Sunday. He was “flattered” by the interest in him.

“I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I’ve got some pretty special relationships at this place,” Ciraldo said after the game.

“I’ve got to look at what’s in my career and what’s down the track too. At the moment, I’m just focused on Penrith.”

Originally published as NRL 2022: Wests Tigers confirm meeting with Cameron Ciraldo, Api Koroisau backs young coach

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