Penrith Panthers chief executive Justin Pascoe has emerged as the frontrunner to take over as boss of the embattled Wests Tigers.

Fairfax Media understands the Tigers are closing in on a decision which could be announced as early as this week. It is understood Pascoe and the Tigers are putting the finishing touches on the finer details of the agreement before both parties can make a final decision.



Pascoe was one of five people interviewed by the Tigers board last week and made the shortlist of two candidates after the club received about 160 applications. It is understood the other person under consideration is from outside rugby league but has a sports background. Former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell was not among the candidates. The Tigers have been without a full-time chief executive since Grant Mayer resigned in June. The club’s general manager of football Phil Moss has been the club’s interim boss since Mayer’s departure after two years in the role. Moss was interviewed for the full-time role.

Tigers chairwoman Marina Go was non-committal about who was in contention for the position. “There has been lots of speculation about who the club will appoint as chief executive,” Go said. “There was a choice from a number of high-calibre candidates. We look forward to making a decision soon.”

Pascoe is chief executive of the Panthers NRL team. He was appointed last August and has worked with the club’s general manager of football Phil Gould and Panthers group chief executive Warren Wilson. Pascoe spent a week at Harvard University earlier this year on a fact-finding mission to help develop the club’s brand.

Pascoe was the chief commercial officer at the Panthers before he was appointed chief executive. During his tour of the US, Pascoe was also taken on a behind-the-scenes tour of Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park.

He worked as general manager of strategy and sales at the Western Bulldogs and spent time working in Los Angeles. It is hoped the new chief executive will start when the Tigers return to pre-season training in November.

The announcement of a new boss could not come at a better time for the Tigers who have been engulfed by off-field dramas in recent weeks. One of the first situations the incoming chief executive would need to manage is Robbie Farah’s contract.

While coach Jason Taylor has given Farah permission to negotiate with rival clubs at the end of the season, it remains to be seen if Farah will depart the club. Farah has two years remaining on his contract, meaning the new chief executive may be forced to mend the relationship between Taylor and Farah should both front up for pre-season training.

Farah’s manager Sam Ayoub, asked about the possibility of Farah staying put at Concord, told AAP: “To be honest, that’s a question you’d have to ask the Tigers. He’s got a contract and as far as we’re concerned, he’s there.”

The Tigers are coming off a rousing 50-16 triumph over the Warriors at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. After a tumultuous week, Farah could hardly have sent a stronger message to club management with a try and the last hand in three others.

They can ensure they avoid the dreaded wooden spoon if they beat St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.