Storm sensation Scott to shun rival poachers
At the age of 17, Melbourne Storm young gun Curtis Scott had a dozen NRL clubs chasing one of the most prized junior signatures in the game.
A year ago, his manager described him as "very close" to leaving the Storm to return to Sydney.
But now, barely out of his teens and with a premiership ring having arrived a week before his 20th birthday, Scott has put rival offers on ice as he prepares to ink a lucrative contract extension with the Storm.
Melbourne are expecting to announce Scott's retention within the next few weeks, locking in the NSW Emerging Blues squad member until at least the end of 2020, if not longer.
In 2015 the Storm had to beat 11 rivals to lure Scott from his junior club Cronulla Sharks, but throughout the recent negotiations, no other team has seriously entered his thinking.
"We're in positive discussions between the club and his agent," Storm director of football Frank Ponissi told NRL.com.
"It's progressing very well and there's only a little bit of work left to do.
"Here is his first preference, that's been indicated to us and we're very pleased with how it's all been handled.
"It's just been between us and Curtis, and as far as formal interest elsewhere, we don't believe it's been a factor.
"No doubt there's other clubs who'd love to have him.''
Ponissi was confident of having a new deal in place "well before the start of the season".
After captaining the Sharks to a SG Ball premiership at 17, Scott chose Melbourne off the back of a Billy Slater sales pitch. The North Queensland Cowboys were also a strong contender.
Last April, however, his manager Sam Ayoub was having to convince Scott to continue chasing a Telstra Premiership berth in purple, telling Fox Sports how his client's frustrations with injury and team selection threatened to cut his Storm stint short.
Scott then cracked a regular spot in the centres by June before winning a title in October. He is now on Brad Fittler's Origin radar after joining the Emerging Blues camp in Sydney last week.
Ayoub confirmed while there is "always interest coming in", Scott's first and second preference is to stay at the Storm.
Even though Slater's salesmanship got him there in the first place, it is the lasting legacy of Cooper Cronk that is playing a key role in keeping Scott at the Storm for the long haul.
The salary cap room freed up by Cronk's departure is contributing to a healthy upgrade for Scott, while Ponissi credits the superstar halfback for helping Scott through the 15-month wait between NRL games that had him sounding out Ayoub about a move to Sydney.
"Any frustrations would've been a reflection of just how competitive he is," Ponissi said.
"He probably debuted a bit earlier than expected [in round 2, 2016] when he was straight out of school and we rewarded him for a fantastic pre-season which unfortunately was followed by a lengthy injury.
"[Scott's] biggest development would've been channelling and balancing that competitiveness with patience, wanting to do well and knowing it does take a bit of time.
"The coaches did a great job with him, but Cooper Cronk was very good with him too.
"Cooper took him under his wing about halfway through last year and he was certainly a strong mentor for Curtis as far as that patience and development goes."