Broncos up the ante to keep Origin star
Brisbane have tabled a $1.5 million-plus deal to Xavier Coates as the Broncos ramp-up their retention drive to stave off poaching threats from the Titans and NRL premiers Melbourne.
The Courier-Mail can reveal the Broncos have tabled a lucrative three-year deal to Coates in a bid to keep the Queensland Origin flyer at Red Hill until the end of 2024.
The 20-year-old Papua New Guinea international is being pursued by four NRL rivals with Coates having held talks with the Titans, Cowboys, a Sydney-based club and Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
But after securing fellow young guns Jordan Riki and Brendan Piakura to new deals in the past three weeks, Broncos coach Kevin Walters has upped the ante to ensure Coates remains part of his Red Hill revolution.
As part of his sales pitch to Piakura, Walters recently took the 18-year-old on a tour of the 52,500-seat Suncorp Stadium, sat him down in the grandstand and said: "Do you want to walk away from this?"
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Walters successfully scuppered Piakura's planned move to the Bulldogs and now the Broncos coach hopes a multi-year extension worth around $500,000 a season will convince Coates to stay loyal.
Of the 12 players currently off-contract at Red Hill, Coates and Kotoni Staggs are the two free agents the Broncos are most nervous about retaining.
Staggs is mulling over an offer from the Titans, while speculation is rife Coates is waiting for a decision from Bellamy and will seriously consider a move to Melbourne if the super coach rejects Brisbane and signs a new deal with the Storm.
The Coates camp insist there is no substance to the Bellamy rumour, but in any event the notion of quitting reigning wooden-spooners the Broncos to join the most successful club in the league would have appeal.
Then there is a three-year, $1.7 million offer from the Titans, who are mindful Coates has links to the Gold Coast region as a Currumbin junior who attended Marymount College.
Walters is aware the Broncos face a fight to retain Coates, whose contractual considerations are as much financial as they are cultural, with Brisbane under pressure to show their emerging stars their system can educate and deliver premierships.
The hulking 105kg winger or centre has scored 12 tries from 21 tries and after tasting his Origin debut with Queensland last year, he is hungry for more success.
Walters is heartened by the recent comments of Coates, who last month lauded Brisbane's culture under Anthony Seibold's coaching successor.
"You have to keep your options open, but my preference is to stay at the Broncos," Coates said.
"It was so difficult last year, but it feels like a new club (this season).
"There is a family feel and 'Kevvie' is a family-orientated bloke. He is getting the camaraderie going again and bringing back past players to have chats with us.
"I want to help turn this club around and whatever happens next year is down the track. My immediate focus is playing good football. But I'm 100 per cent dedicated to the Broncos so if I'm happy here, I will stay."
Originally published as Broncos up the ante to keep Origin star