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Broncos won't let rivals sink claws into Isaako, Pangai in 2022

Kevin Walters is adamant Jamayne Isaako and Tevita Pangai jnr are required players for Brisbane next season despite admitting he was searching the market for a new fullback.

Isaako and Pangai became embroiled in a playing poaching reports this week after Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire flew to Brisbane to meet with the pair.

Walters confirmed on Friday the Broncos had not given either player permission to negotiate with another club for the final year of their contracts in 2022.

The Broncos later issued a statement claiming Isaako met to discuss New Zealand Test preparations with Maguire while Pangai "categorically rejected suggestions" he met Maguire at all.

Maguire was guarded when asked about the matter on Thursday, saying he would not "comment about players that we're looking at. I'm about the now and my job is to make sure we keep growing as a club so who we talk to is part of the job".

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The NRL confirmed there would not be any investigation into the matter as anti-tampering rules do not prevent clubs meeting with contracted players as long as they’re not trying to entice them to break their existing contracts.

Isaako and Pangai are free agents at the end of next season so technically the Tigers - or any other club - are permitted to meet with the players to discuss a deal for 2023, but no contract offer can be tabled until November 2021.

Walters said it was the reality of the NRL world that clubs and players were meeting behind closed doors all the time to improve rosters and secure futures.

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"It’s footy. That is what happens. Obviously, teams are looking to change their rosters and that is what happens," he said.

"Well, I’m sure there are a lot of clubs contacting contracted players. Do you think they’re not? Well c’mon mate.

"We’re always in the market for every position given what is happening here at the moment. Whether it be a fullback, wingers, we are always open to suggestions on how we can strengthen our roster."

Walters said the Broncos had spoken directly to Isaako and Pangai and reaffirmed his desire for them to stay.

"We’ve sorted that out internally, I’ve spoken to both those players so we’ve got control of that," he said.

"They don’t have permission to talk to other clubs, no. My information was it [the meeting] was more around Michael Maguire is the [New Zealand] Test coach, there is a Test series at the end of the year so it was around that.

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"They’re contracted here certainly, why would we want to lose them?"

Storm fullback Nicho Hynes is off contract so the Broncos are free to negotiate with the 24-year-old understudy to Ryan Papenhuyzen, although Walters was coy about offering him the chance to join Brisbane.

"There’s been some players that we are interested in, at the moment we’re not allowed to divulge who those players are. That’s a decision we will make down the track," he said.

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Walters was even more blunt when asked if the club were on the verge of signing former Raiders skipper Josh Hodgson, who is on the outer in Canberra with hooker Tom Starling taking his starting spot.

"I don’t know anything about that one," Walters said.

"Mate, he is under contract at another club so we can’t even talk to him even if we did want to, that would be wrong of us."

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