North Queensland Cowboys sign Luciano Leilua for 2023

Luciano Leilua will play for the Cowboys in 2023. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

North Queensland have landed a massive coup, luring Luciano Leilua away from Wests Tigers on a three-year NRL deal from 2023.

In a big-money deal to be worth up to $2.2 million over the life of the contract, Leilua will join Jason Taumalolo in the Cowboys' back row.

North Queensland's acquisition will give them a proper x-factor on the edge, as they fight to return to the finals for the first time since 2017.

The Cowboys had attempted to line up powerful Penrith second-rower Viliame Kikau on similar money, before he went to Canterbury.

An announcement is expected on Thursday, but AAP understands the deal has been done.

At this stage no agreement has been reached for Leilua to follow his brother Joey out of the Tigers early and start with North Queensland in 2022.

It's believed the Tigers weren't willing to match the money the Cowboys were offering.

Just last week they picked up Isaiah Papali'i for $1.8 million over three years, or around $100,000 a season less than what Leilua was offered by the Cowboys.

But it comes in the same week they missed out on Josh Hodgson's signature, after failing to come to an agreement with Canberra for an early release.

Again, the Tigers took the safe option with their money, refusing to budge on how much of Hodgson's contract for next year they would cover.

The joint venture still have three spaces and more than $1 million in their cap left for next season, having long viewed 2022 as the year they get their cap back in order.