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Walsh release request as Broncos, Dogs battle for Piakura

Broncos rookie Reece Walsh has requested a release to join the Warriors this season as Brisbane prepare a new upgraded offer for Bulldogs target Brendan Piakura.

Walsh, 18, was signed on a lucrative three-year contract to join the Warriors from 2022 last week and is now looking to fast-track the move with a release from his Broncos development deal.

The development continues a dramatic day at Red Hill after boom back-rower Jordan Riki re-signed with Brisbane on a three-year deal that ties him up until 2024.

Riki's retention is a significant boost given the ongoing raids on Brisbane's best talent, with Walsh the first of many off-contract youngsters to decide his future and now follow up with an early exit request.

NRL.com understands Brisbane have it made clear they will only grant the release if a player is provided in return by the Warriors.

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The Kiwi club, currently based on the Central Coast, is willing to consider the proposal given it would bring Walsh under Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's tutelage before he departs for rugby union next season.

The Broncos are yet to make any official comment regarding Walsh.

Walsh was identified as a No.1 replacement for the Warriors skipper last year, being wined and dined by club consultant Phil Gould before meeting Nathan Brown and committing to a three-year deal.

He is rated one of the best young prospects in the game and was being sized up for Brisbane's own fullback role next year.

Meanwhile, at Red Hill, coach Kevin Walters is due to meet again with in-demand back-rower Piakura on Wednesday.

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The Broncos are understood to be preparing an upgraded three-year extension for the Australian schoolboys representative.

The beefed-up Brisbane offer comes in the belief that Canterbury have also presented a three-year deal to the 18-year-old.

Piakura toured Canterbury's Belmore base last week and has spoken with new coach Trent Barrett several times as he weighs up his future.

The Titans have also been in the mix with a two-year contract of their own.

Up until Brisbane's revised offer Piakura was believed to be favouring a shift to the Bulldogs, who will travel to Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night with both sides bidding for a first win of the season.

Broncos lock Pat Carrigan found himself in a similar position in 2018, knocking back interest from the Bulldogs to stay at Red Hill.

Carrigan said on Tuesday that he understands the demand for Brisbane's best juniors and hopes the club's retention bid sees him stay put.

"I think it's really important to keep Brendan," Carrigan said.

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"I stay pretty neutral on these things and obviously tell him I want to keep him.

"But everyone's got their own reasons and he's got to make that decision for himself. But I know Kevvy's building something at the club where everyone wants to be part of it."

As well as Piakura and Walsh, winger Xavier Coates, halfback Tom Dearden and injured centre Kotoni Staggs are among the rising Broncos all being eyed off by rival clubs.

Brisbane have been bullish about their attempts to keep their best and brightest.

But with several clubs – including the Titans and Storm – pursuing Coates, and Staggs also in the sights of Parramatta and the Gold Coast, all eyes are on the retention efforts at Red Hill.

After last year's wooden spoon all aspects of the Broncos operation have come under the microscope.

Carrigan denied oft-discussed culture and behaviour issues have played a part in Brisbane's latest crop of talent eyeing off other clubs.

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"I don't think there's a cultural issue or anything like that," Carrigan said.

"Players leave for different reasons or personal reasons. Players leave every club and they happen to be leaving the Broncs at the moment.

"But I don't think there's a cultural issue, we all are good mates on and off the field and when you're winning footy games that goes a long way to be able to keep young kids and young talent at the club.

"They want to be a part of it. So I feel responsible for that and I know some of the other boys do where we need to put performances on the field and somewhat bring it back to a club where people want to play again."

 

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