Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has revealed that star backrower Viliame Kikau was furious after footage of him posing a Bulldogs shirt was leaked online.
Kikau, 26, will move to Belmore for the 2023 season – and was met with a smattering of boos at Penrith’s grand final parade day on Saturday.
Bulldogs general manager Phil Gould has since apologised to his former club over the leak, with Cleary saying his departing player had every right to be annoyed by the footage.
“I spoke to him last night, he was very angry about it, to be honest, which is fair enough,” Cleary said.
“At the end of the day it’s a bit of clickbait for everybody and everybody gets excited about that sort of stuff.”
Kikau will join the Bulldogs on a big-money deal in 2023, with Cleary conceding that this was always going to happen at times in a salary capped competition.
“I spoke to Vili a few weeks’ ago about the potential of him having to leave. I certainly never wanted him to leave,” he said.
“It’s sad, but it’s reality. That’s professional sports.”
Fans lined the streets of Penrith before packing into Penrith Stadium to greet their heroes, who defeat Souths in the grand final a month ago.
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Their celebrations were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It would have been nice to do it straight after the grand final, but very grateful that we still got to spend it with our fans,” Clive Churchill Medal winner Nathan Cleary said.