Fa'aoso ready to leave Knights

HARD charger Richie Fa’aoso is resigned to leaving the Knights at the end of the season and remains open-minded about the prospect of joining a rival NRL club before the June 30 transfer deadline.

The 28-year-old Tongan international is considering two-year contract offers from two Sydney NRL teams and Japanese rugby union club Panasonic Wild Knights.

He has also had preliminary discussions with the Canberra Raiders and more than one English Super League club.

Fa’aoso, who is one game short of reaching the 100-game milestone for the Knights, said he would prefer to sign a new deal with Newcastle, but he has accepted he is not part of coach Wayne Bennett’s plans beyond this year and wants to secure his future as soon as possible.

He indicated he was likely to remain in the NRL rather than switch codes and relocate to Japan.

‘‘As I’ve said all along, I want to stay with the Knights because Newcastle is my home now, but I have to do what’s best for myself and my family,’’ Fa’aoso told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘I’m just weighing up all my options now and I’ll see what happens from there but it’s driving me crazy. I just want to get something sorted out as soon as possible because not knowing what my future holds is very frustrating, and I just want to concentrate on playing good footy.’’

The popular prop had been representing himself but has recently employed the services of a friend, player agent Matt Desira, from Pacific Sports Management, to negotiate on his behalf.

Desira said all contract negotiations pertained to the start of the 2013 season, and he had not discussed a mid-season transfer with any of the interested clubs.

But Fa’aoso said he would consider all scenarios, including switching clubs before June 30, if that was the best option for him.

‘‘There’s a couple of offers on the table, so we’ve just got to sit down and have a chat about it and take it from there,’’ Desira said.

‘‘There’s a lot of interest in him because he’s been in the game for so long.’’

Desira said staying in Newcastle remained ‘‘a possibility’’ but the Herald has been told the Knights have already informed Fa’aoso he will not be retained.

The Knights’ policy is to not comment on issues related to player recruitment or retention.

Fa’aoso has played 99 NRL games for the Knights since arriving in 2008 and said he hoped to finish the season in the NRL and ‘‘leave on good terms and go out on a high note’’.

He will again play NSW Cup on Sunday, against Wentworthville at Ringrose Park, alongside other NRL squad members who have been dropped amid the club’s five-game losing streak.

As revealed by the Herald last Saturday, the Knights have contacted other clubs trying to offload international centres Wes Naiqama and Junior Sa’u, who with Bennett’s approval signed new multi-year contracts last season.

The Knights re-signed stand-in skipper Danny Buderus to a new one-year deal earlier this week, but former New Zealand Test forward Zeb Taia will leave at the end of the year to link with France-based English Super League club Catalans Dragons.

Veteran utility forward Matt Hilder, who has signed until the end of next year, is reportedly under pressure to see out his contract.

The Herald has been told negotiations with Cessnock-born forward Joel Edwards, who was close to signing a new deal during the off-season, are on hold as the club takes stock and deals with their mid-season form slump.

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