After watching Sam Walker and Reece Walsh star for rival clubs, the Broncos are facing the prospect of losing another talented youngster in Xavier Coates.
News Corp reports the Storm are close to signing the 20-year-old after he flew to Melbourne over the weekend to tour their facilities.
According to Phil Rothfield, the conversations between the Storm and Coates started back in December and the club is now “on the verge” of signing the Queensland Origin winger.
“Someone sent me a photo from the Gold Coast last December where Craig Bellamy, Xavier Coates and his manager were having a coffee at Coolangatta,” Rothfield told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.
“I then got a phone call over the weekend saying that Xavier was on a plane after his Friday night game, flying to Melbourne. He met with the Storm and had a look at their facilities.
“They tell me he’s on the verge of signing with the Storm.”
Melbourne are in the market for a quality winger with Josh Addo-Carr joining the Bulldogs from next season. Coates, who is off-contract this year, would make a pretty handy replacement. He’s played 22 NRL games over three years with the Broncos and last season made his State of Origin debut.
It would be a huge blow for Brisbane who have had to watch the likes of Walker and Walsh rise in these first months of the season.
Walker — the son of ex-Broncos playmaker, Ben — came up through their system. It was reportedly a botched meeting with former NRL coach Anthony Seibold, who told the teenager he was a fullback not a half, that convinced the rising star to sign with the Roosters.
Walsh is a little more raw given he started the year at Red Hill. The 18-year-old was signed by the Warriors in March as Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s eventual replacement on a three-year deal. But was granted an immediate release to make the switch last month. He made his debut in Round 7 at fullback, before switching to five-eighth last weekend and showed just how much potential he has.
Rothfield turned the heat up on Brisbane’s recruitment team for these bad calls that keep on happening.
“On the back of Reece Walsh going to the Warriors, Sam Walker going to the Broncos and David Fifita going to the Titans, you’ve got to wonder what’s going on. I think they need a new recruitment manager,” he said.
“Why and how are these outstanding young players being allowed to go? It’s just really poor recruitment. Something needs to be done, and done urgently to stop any more getting out of their system. This is a real problem.
“It should be Dave Donaghy’s first job as the new CEO to get this sorted out.”
Despite the recent signings of Sharks halfback Chad Townsend and Broncos playmaker Tom Dearden, Cowboys coach Todd Payten has confirmed Scott Drinkwater is still a recruitment “priority.”
The 23-year-old started the season at fullback before shifting to five-eighth in Round 3 where he’s really come alive.
In the Cowboys’ four-point loss to the Warriors last Sunday, Drinkwater scored a try, set-up another and contributed to two others.
Negotiations for a new deal were put on hold last month, however Payten confirmed after Sunday’s game that the Cowboys had made him an offer. NRL.com reports that offer is for two-years, however there is interest from other clubs too.
“He’s a priority, he’s got an offer in front of him so we’re just waiting to see what happens,” Payten said.
Ultimately, the power is in Drinkwater’s hands.
The Central Coast junior has played 34 NRL games since making his debut for the Storm in 2018. He joined the Cowboys in 2019 and has proven to be a handy utility.
His manager, Chris Orr told News Corp a fortnight ago that four clubs have shown interest in Drinkwater — including some Sydney clubs — but his preference is to stay with the Cowboys.
However Townsend and Dearden’s deals have both been confirmed since then, which could make Drinkwater rethink what’s best for him.