Broncos coach Kevin Walters has confirmed his desire to bring Queensland stars Dane Gagai and Kurt Capewell home to Brisbane under his long-term ambition to rebuild his NRL side with Maroons representatives.
Walters identified Brisbane’s lack of Queensland star power when he arrived at Red Hill and the departure of winger Xavier Coates next year to Melbourne will leave the Broncos without a current Maroons Origin player in their ranks.
Walters has already signed 2020 Maroons centre Brenko Lee for next season, but is keen to add more Maroons with off-contract duo Gagai and Capewell top of his "Kevolution" hit list in Brisbane.
Gagai was released by the Broncos 10 years ago but has since rebuilt his career at the Rabbitohs via Newcastle while former Ipswich Jet Capewell has developed into a premier back-rower at the Panthers after establishing his Telstra Premiership career at Cronulla.
"That was one of our objectives when I first walked through the door was to get more Origin-based players here so it will be a work in progress," Walters said.
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"We’ve got one in so we’ve just got to try and build on that over the next couple of years.
"[Gagai and Capewell] are both off contract and they would be two we would be interested in having a conversation with.
"We will let them play their Origin series. They’ve got a big match in front of them on Wednesday. They’re two quality players so they would be welcome in most clubs I would have thought."
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Rabbitohs and Maroons forward Jaydn Su’A is another potential target, while Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson has reportedly been on the Broncos radar as he fights for a starting spot at Canberra with Tom Starling.
Walters said he was disappointed to miss signing Nicho Hynes after the Storm utility opted to join Cronulla next season on a deal worth more than the Broncos were willing to offer.
He added the Broncos would go back to market to see who else could join his recruitment drive headlined by Bunnies halfback Adam Reynolds.
"Oh yeah, we made a play for Nicho and I totally respect his decision wanting to stay in Sydney near family and friends. He got a good offer so we wish him all the best," Walters said.
"We’re always on the market for good players, quality players and Nicho was one of those players that was off contract.
"If there is a good player available we will certainly have a chat with them and see whether or not they’re interested in coming here to the Broncos."
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Walters denied Thursday’s clash with St George Illawarra could be Matt Lodge’s last appearance for the Broncos amid reports he could join Newcastle in the coming days.
The coach said there had been no discussions with the Knights over an early release from his contract and he expected Lodge to be with the club in the short term.
Lodge, halback Tyson Gamble and reserve forward Jordan Riki are back in the squad from suspension on Thursday against St George Illawarra.
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"I wouldn’t have thought so," Walters said when asked if this was Lodge’s last game for the club.
"He is playing well and all we look for is week to week with all of our players.
"Certainly, Lodgey it’s great to have him back and I expect him to be here for a few more weeks yet."