Brisbane's seismic multimillion-dollar, four-year retention of Kotoni Staggs will clear up exactly how hard they can hit the playmaker market, but the "ruthless" rebuild at Red Hill has the futures of Matt Lodge and Xavier Coates still up in the air.
Re-signings and rumours flew left and right in the Queensland capital on Wednesday, with the club confirming Staggs's long-awaited extension on the same day Lodge and Coates addressed their next career moves.
Coates was non-committal speaking prior to reports emerging that he was set to link with Melbourne on a two-year deal.
Storm and Broncos officials, as well as Coates's agent Nash Dawson, denied any agreement or decision had been reached on the Origin flyer's future, though teammates have been overheard joking with the 20-year-old about a prospective move to Melbourne at training for the past week.
Brisbane have long made Coates a retention priority alongside Staggs, bumping up their own offer extension offer for Coates last month in the face of interest from the Storm and Titans.
Staggs' new four-year deal, believed to be worth just under $3 million, will keep the injured speedster at Brisbane until the end of 2025 in a much-needed win on the club's retention front.
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Tying Staggs down long term, after Parramatta and the Gold Coast withdrew their bids, gives Brisbane added clout in their pursuit of Rabbitohs No.7 Adam Reynolds as the 22-year-old Bronco has been touted as a future five-eighth option.
Lodge though remains unsure if he will be at the club long term after being told by Walters recently he is free to leave – despite being contracted for next year and having a two-year option in his favour after that – so the Broncos could free up funds to target an experienced half.
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"I don’t know yet [where I will play next year], at the moment I’m playing here.
"Every game I go into play I will go as hard as I can until the day I’m not here," Lodge said.
"I came here four years ago with pretty much nothing so whether I leave this week or in four years this club has done a lot for me and I've rebuilt my whole life here. I'm financial stable and got a family.
"I came here with a 20kg suitcase and would be leaving with a lot more than that.
"I could be here four years so who knows.”
Walters apologised to Lodge after details of their private meeting made their way into the public sphere last week.
Lodge was linked to a return to his junior stomping ground at Penrith, though Panthers officials have insisted to NRL.com that those suggestions are wide of the mark.
The 25-year-old is also mature enough to realise the nature of the rugby league business and the coach has a mandate to do what it takes to make Brisbane strong again.
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"Obviously he has got a clear direction on where he wants to go, he started off pretty positive but now he is pretty ruthless in how he is going to get there and his vision so I guess time will tell how it plays out," he said.
Staggs meanwhile acknowledged the recent off-field incidents which have placed his career at a crossroads and resulted in him being under investigation by the NRL Integrity Unit three times in the past year.
The NRL is yet to conclude its investigation into alleged drunken behaviour by Staggs at a Brisbane nightspot recently.
The Broncos have vowed to stick by Staggs and work through his off-field behaviour.
The prospect of strict behaviour clauses being inserted into his new deal was also touted before months of extension talks concluded in the long-term deal.
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"I’ve made mistakes off the field but I’m learning my lessons and from here onwards I want to be the best person I can be and be a role model, it’s up to me to get my head in the right place and move forward," Staggs said in a Brisbane statement.
"My future is here at the Broncos – I’ve always been told to chase my dream and my dream as a young kid was to be here at the Broncos, and I’m going to be here for another four years – I’m really happy.
"Reflecting back to when I was growing up as a young kid and kicking the footy around the park imagining I was in Broncos colours, to be able to make my debut and play here for three years and then to get another four years on top of that with a bunch of boys that I’ve known for a while now, I’m pretty proud of that."