Brisbane’s shocking run with player retention has suffered its most devastating blow to date.
Brisbane’s shocking run with player retention has suffered its most devastating blow to date.

Broncos disaster: Young gun defects to NRL rival

Brisbane young gun Xavier Coates will reject advances from the three Queensland teams to join the Melbourne Storm.

The 20-year-old will ink a short-term deal with the Storm - expected to be for just two seasons - and worth less than what he could have commanded had he remained at the Broncos or joined another NRL rival.

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The Sunday Telegraph reported this week that the Storm were closing in on Coates' signature after he flew to Melbourne to check out the club's facilities.

The decision is a major blow for the Broncos who were desperate to retain the Maroons flyer. He now joins a long-list of emerging first graders to walkout on Brisbane who have lost the likes of Reece Walsh, Sam Walker and David Fifita in recent years.

But the news is not all bad for the Broncos who are expected to re-sign Kotoni Staggs. Staggs attracted interest from Parramatta, Manly and Newcastle but the 22-year-old is likely to recommit to the Broncos. Despite yet to play a game this season because of a knee injury, Staggs was in hot demand from rivals.

But the impending loss of Coates is a huge blow for the Broncos who are in the midst of reshaping their struggling roster.

North Queensland and Gold Coast also pushed hard for Coates but the attraction of playing in Melbourne and learning under coach Craig Bellamy was a temptation which proved too much for him to ignore.

Coates met with Bellamy in December.
Coates met with Bellamy in December.

 

It is also an indication that the off-contract Bellamy is expected to remain in Melbourne for at least one more season.

New Broncos boss Dave Donaghy labelled rival clubs as "vultures" for poaching the best young Broncos this week.

The Storm have produced plenty of representative players but you have to go back 15 years to find the last time Melbourne signed an incumbent Origin player.

Ex-Rooster Mick Crocker joined the Storm in 2006 after playing three matches for Queensland in 2005. Coates played the opening two matches of the series last year before missing game three because of a groin injury.

A heap of players including Josh Addo-Carr, Dale Finucane and Jahrome Hughes have made their debut at rival clubs before the Storm helped turn them into representative players.

Coates is a proven finisher. While he may be a direct replacement for Canterbury-bound Josh Addo-Carr, who could easily slot into the centres.

Coates has scored 13 tries from his 23 games - including seven this year.

In December, The Daily Telegraph revealed a secret meeting between Coates, his manager and Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy at a Coolangatta coffee club on the Gold Coast.

 

Originally published as Broncos disaster: Young gun defects to NRL rival



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