Broncos set to win multimillion-dollar battle for backline star
Kotoni Staggs has told teammates he is staying loyal to Brisbane in the most emphatic sign yet the Broncos have won a multimillion-dollar battle for the backline superstar.
Staggs has privately informed the Broncos dressing-room he will not quit the club with Brisbane's recruitment-and-retention committee in the advanced stages of finalising the richest deal of his career.
As revealed by News Corp last month, the Broncos tabled an upgrade in excess of $2 million to stave off poaching threats from the Titans and Sydney-based NRL rivals Parramatta and the Bulldogs.
Staggs has yet to formally ink his Broncos extension, but club chiefs believe they have got their man, with the lethal strike weapon telling Brisbane colleagues in recent days: "I am staying".
Only a shock, eleventh-hour change of heart will stop Staggs officially signing with the Broncos, who are close to rubber-stamping a three or four-year contract worth up to $2.8 million.
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The impending retention of NSW Origin hopeful Staggs is a massive coup for the Broncos, who are shaping their revival around one of the most lethal attacking players in the code.
Brisbane bosses are thrashing out the final terms of the deal to keep Staggs at Red Hill until the end of 2024 or 2025, but the 22-year-old's declaration to teammates is a compelling sign that he sees a long-term future at the Broncos.
Staggs has also indicated he plans to move from centre to five-eighth next season following talks with coach Kevin Walters, a revelation that leaves underfire pivot Anthony Milford on death row at Red Hill.
Milford is off-contract at season's end and severing ties with the embattled pivot would free up $1 million for the Broncos to retain Staggs, who is sidelined until June following a knee reconstruction.
Walters is confident the Broncos will seal the Staggs deal and indicated as much when asked if Brisbane were close to announcing his retention.
"Yes, that's the plan," he said.
"Kotoni is a big part of our future and we want him to be here at the Broncos.
"He could have been extremely helpful for us (against the Rabbitohs on Thursday night) in any position that he played.
"That's the key for us, to get his signature ... I know it would be a big boost to everyone at the club."
There were fears Staggs would walk out on the Broncos after he fielded $800,000-a-season offers from Sydney, while Titans culture boss Mal Meninga had also had talks with the Tongan Test ace.
But Staggs is keen to remain close to his mother in Brisbane and is prepared to accept less, around $700,000 annually, to remain at the Broncos.
The explosive Staggs has scored 23 tries from 47 games for the Broncos since his NRL debut in 2018 and has developed into Brisbane's most dangerous attacking back.
Broncos skipper Alex Glenn said Staggs was a key plank in helping Brisbane offload the wooden spoon.
"It would be huge for us if Kotoni signs a new deal," he said.
"I am hoping he stays loyal.
"We all know what he can do on the field and we know what he brings to our team when he is on the field.
"When we get him back from injury he will be a huge strike weapon for us."
Originally published as Broncos set to win multimillion-dollar battle for backline star