Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire insists Josh Reynolds and Russell Packer will remain at the club next season following claims that the franchise leaked details about their halftime walkout in a bid to fast track their departures.
Two of the Tigers’ highest-paid players — on a combined salary of $1.6 million this year- departed at the break when the Tigers trailed Manly 20-12, before staging a comeback to record a 34-32 win with three tries in the final 10 minutes.
Packer and Reynolds’ decision to leave Lottoland Stadium at halftime drew heated criticism.
While they weren’t playing, many believe that as team members they should have stayed on the bench to support their teammates.
Technically Packer and Reynolds didn’t break any rules, as non-playing squad members are not required to attend away games, but most in the NRL thought it was a poor look.
It was also claimed that the club leaked details about Parker and Reynolds’ walkout because they’re trying to get rid of the duo to ease salary cap pressures.
Maguire said the club had privately addressed Packer and Reynolds’ halftime walkout, and agreed it was disappointing, but he said they would remain at the club.
Both Packer and Reynolds come off-contract at the end of 2021.
“The boys have acknowledged that leaving was probably not what we are about and we have dealt with that,” he said.
“I didn’t know about it until the next day, but that is not what we are about what happened at halftime.
“They made a judgment call, and it was wrong and we put our hand up.”
“Russ and Josh are committed the club and they have a contract next year.
“You always have list management going on within an organisation on how we can improve as a group, but those two boys are here.
“Those players when they first signed here came to the Wests Tigers to make it a stronger organisation.
“And they are here next year.
“While they are signed, they are in my playing group and when the time is right they will get selected.”
The pair’s actions to leave their team stranded has prompted critics to suggest the walkout is reflective of a culture problem at the Tigers.
But Maguire believes this claim is unfair.
“That is miles away from where we are at as a club,” he said.
“If you saw how the players go about what we do each day.
“Russell and Josh travelled three hours on a bus to Newcastle, then three hours back.
“We are doing that week in and week out.
“People are getting treatment through games just to make sure that they are ready to go the following week.
“That is what we are about.”
The Tigers host South Sydney at Bankwest Stadium on Thursday night.