Knights release Wes Naiqama to join Panthers

NEWCASTLE Knights utility back Wes Naiqama will leave the club at the end of the NRL season to join Penrith for the next two years.

The Knights have announced they have released the 29-year-old Fijian Test captain from the last two years of the three-year contract he signed last season, clearing the way for him to join the Panthers on November 1.

Naiqama, who will finish this season with the Knights, has been named at five-eighth for Newcastle’s NSW Cup team to play against Cronulla at Henson Park today.

“We would like to thank Wes for his contribution to our club over the last five years,” Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said in a statement on the club’s website.

“Wes leaves with our best wishes and we hope he can recapture some of the form he has displayed throughout his time at our club in his new environment at Penrith.”

Naiqama joined the Knights from the Dragons at the end of 2007 and has played 75 games for Newcastle in the past five seasons.

He was in career-best form last season, earning a new three-year deal, and did not miss a game until he suffered a season-ending torn triceps in Newcastle’s 32-10 loss to Manly at Hunter Stadium on July 17.

Naiqama has struggled to recapture that form this season, playing just six matches. The last of those was in Newcastle’s 50-24 loss to the Broncos in Brisbane on June 3, when he scored a try and kicked four goals from as many attempts.

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