Three clubs launch raid for Broncos MVP
The Broncos face a multimillion-dollar battle to retain Kotoni Staggs with the Gold Coast Titans among three NRL rivals targeting the rampaging Brisbane centre.
Just six months after stealing back-row sensation David Fifita from the Broncos, The Courier-Mail understands the Titans are ready to continue their Red Hill raid by making a big-money play for Staggs.
The development comes as Parramatta and the Bulldogs eye off Staggs, who is arguably the NRL's No.1 centre after terrorising rivals last season with 10 tries from 14 games as Brisbane's shining light in their wooden-spoon debacle.
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Brisbane's most lethal attacking player is off-contract at season's end and the Broncos are set to confront a furious bidding war as NRL rivals prepare to pay more than $800,000 a season for the NSW Origin hopeful.
The Titans struck a devastating blow on the Broncos last season by poaching Fifita and Brisbane can ill-afford to lose another marquee talent to their Queensland rivals.
The Knights have also been linked with Staggs, but Newcastle chiefs are prioritising the extension of young gun Bradman Best and would need to offload other players to have the funds to attract the Broncos ace.
Broncos coach Kevin Walters is acutely aware of the looming fiscal fight for Staggs but is backing his cultural standards in the post-Anthony Seibold era to retain the explosive centre.
"I don't want to lose Kotoni," Walters said.
"I understand there is interest in him but I see him as a 10-year player for the Broncos and it's up to me to provide the right environment where he feels comfortable with what he is doing.
"He is a super player and we will fight hard to keep him at the Broncos."
The Titans have done well to bolster their forward stocks with the signing of Fifita, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Herman Ese'ese and the next step is adding some strike to their three-quarter line.
Staggs is in no rush to decide his future given his rehabilitation from a knee reconstruction which will see him miss the opening three months of the 2021 premiership.
The 22-year-old hopes to hit the ground running when he returns to the park and a successful comeback would see his market value nudge the $1 million mark.
There was a time when the Titans were given no hope of poaching the Broncos' best stars but the seismic defection of Fifita leaves Brisbane forever vulnerable.
Former Broncos skipper Gorden Tallis, now a Titans ambassador, said Brisbane's on-field performance this season could determine whether Staggs stays loyal.
"Staggs is like a Latrell Mitchell, he will always command interest, so you have to build an organisation to convince him to stay," he said.
"They have lost a bit of talent at the Broncos, so there is room in the cap for Kotoni.
"I think Kotoni can be a game breaker like Steve Renouf (Broncos centre tryscoring legend).
"Some of the things that Kotoni does is unbelievable. There were some games last season whether he dragged the Broncos into the game single-handedly.
"It's important the Broncos keep him, but if he doesn't want to be there, then that's his decision. You don't want someone if they aren't happy at a club."
Originally published as Three clubs launch raid for Broncos MVP