Wigan Warriors boss Adrian Lam considers options to replace Taulima Tautai

Adrian Lam admits Wigan may try and get Mitch Clark in early following Taulima Tautai's departure.

Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 9:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th June 2019, 10:15 am
Taulima Tautai
Taulima Tautai

Prop Tautai has left by "mutual consent" in wake of his drink-drive conviction.

It has left a space in the squad and Super League clubs have until August 9 to recruit for the current campaign.

Kiwi Clark has already signed for 2020 and Lam says they may see if Castleford are prepared to release him early since he has fallen down the pecking order - he played for Halifax last weekend.

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But he doesn't feel the need to recruit needlessly and has backed his current squad to "get the job done" if they can't bring in reinforcements.

Lam said: "I noticed Mitch played for Halifax last weekend and so it's something we'll probably look at. In saying that, we feel we can get the job done with what we've got.

"That opportunity will only arise if Cas' don't wan't him there any longer, and if it can happen, I'm sure it will but I'm really confident with the players I've got.

"We feel we have enough talent there to get us through this year."

Tautai, who joined from Wakefield ahead of the 2015 campaign, has not played since being convicted of being twice over the legal driving limit earlier this month.

"Taulima made a decision with his family, it's not ideal for us but he felt he'd had enough in the UK," said Lam. "We said goodbye to him on Monday and the club has given him a lot of support, which he's grateful for.

"We wish him the best."

Asked whether he imagined the 31-year-old would hang up the boots, Lam said: "I think he's in a place where he wants to go back and have nothing to do with rugby league. His family are in a good place, they know where they want to settle and I asked him if he will play on and he said he just wants to do nothing for a month or so.

"I'm sure a club would pick him up, whether that's NRL or a feeder club, but that's a decision he'll have to make once he's had a break."

When Tautai appeared before magistrates earlier this month his solicitor said he would "likely" be deported because it would jeopardise his visa, but there was no mention of that in the statement yesterday.

Executive director Kris Radlinski said: “After a series of conversations with Taulima, it was mutually decided that he will leave the club with immediate effect after five-years at Wigan Warriors.

"Taulima and his family expressed their wish to return to Sydney immediately to be closer to their extended family and we have facilitated that wish. We’d like to thank Taulima for his efforts at Wigan and we wish him and his family well for the future.”

Tautai made 132 appearances for Wigan with 125 off the bench - a club record.

On leaving Wigan, Tautai said: “I would like to say that I am grateful to Wigan Warriors for the opportunity that they have given my family and I for the past five years to live out my passion of playing rugby league. After achieving great success at the Warriors I feel that the time is right for me to take my family home.

“This decision has not been an easy one to make but I feel it is the right decision for my family, and I am very appreciative of the compassion shown by Ian Lenagan and Kris Radlinski whilst we have reached this agreement.”

He has not played since his conviction as Wigan carried out their own investigation.

Tautai became the third Wigan player to fail a breath test in the last eight months, when he was stopped by police in the early hours of Sunday May 26 - hours after his appearance at the Magic Weekend.

Full-back Zak Hardaker was given a 20-month driving ban last October after testing more than twice the drink-drive limit.

And fringe player Craig Mullen, who has not played for the first-team this season, was banned for 12 months in April.

Wigan stood by both players and in Hardaker's case, he spent time at the Sporting Chance clinic regarding his relationship with alcohol.

Tautai becomes the second of Wigan's props who started the season to depart early; Gabe Hamlin is suspended after a UK Anti-Doping violation. His case has not yet been concluded.