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Croft, Hopoate seal deals to make Super League switch

Broncos halfback Brodie Croft and Canterbury centre Will Hopoate will make the move to the Super League next year.

Croft has signed with Salford after Brisbane told him that the club would not stand in the way if he wanted to explore options elsewhere in 2022, while Hopoate will link with Tonga coach Kristian Woolf at St Helens.

Broncos football and performance director Ben Ikin said the club needed to overhaul its roster with Croft joining the likes of Matthew Lodge and Tevita Pangai jnr in making way for fresh faces. 

"Brodie has a terrific work ethic and has given his all since arriving at the Broncos," he said in a club statement.

"Everyone at the club wishes Brodie and his young family all the best in the future.

Riki does the damage to provide for Croft

"We have made some long-term decisions which have seen players move on, while others have extended or signed with the club for 2022 and beyond."

Next season was due to be the last in Croft's three-year Brisbane deal and it was considered during negotiations that the Broncos could be required to pay a portion of his 2022 salary.

It is not known if the final contract included the Broncos paying freight on Croft’s estimated $400,000-plus wage.

His release frees up space in Brisbane’s salary cap for next season, with Tesi Niu’s retention and an experienced prop their roster priorities.

He will see out the final four games of this season at the Broncos, but is no certainty to retain his starting spot this week against the Roosters. Croft was replaced by veteran half Albert Kelly after an hour in last week’s loss to Newcastle and endured a tough night.

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Croft said in a Salford statement that he was "super excited about this opportunity to join the Red Devils" after consulting with coach Richard Marshall.

"Rich has been very thorough and bold with the ambitions going forward at the club and I cannot wait to get started.

"My partner Safina, son Haris and myself are looking forward to moving at the end of the year to begin this new journey together."

Marshall added that Croft would be a perfect fit for them.

"We're delighted to get Brodie over the line as he's been a player we've been working on for a while now," he said.

"Brodie has consistently competed at the top level in the NRL and he will add further quality in the halves for us. Despite his talent, he is still quite young so he will only develop and improve."

A former Junior Kangaroos captain, he has been in and out of the top line-up this season while racking up 12 appearances.

The 24-year-old former Melbourne Storm playmaker has tallied 65 Telstra Premiership matches since his debut in 2015.

Meanwhile, Hopoate has turned down interest from NRL clubs to sign a two year deal with St Helens, with the option of a third season in 2024. 

Hopoate has a long association with Woolf and is the current Tonga captain.

"I have never been to the UK before and I am excited to be a part of it all," Hopoate said.

“I had option to sign for clubs in the NRL, but I have always wanted to play in the Super League and a strong club like St Helens meant I just couldn’t turn it down.

“I have been coached by ‘Woolfie’ before for Tonga and that was a big reason why I made the decision. I know him as a person and as a coach and his values and standards that he sets is something I want to buy in to.

“The recent success the Saints have had and the history of the club over the years shows it is a big and powerful club and I am just grateful that they showed in interest in me and I am just happy to be a part of it next year.”

Hopoate, who in 2011 became the youngest player after Brad Fittler to represent NSW in State of Origin, has made 120 NRL appearances for Canterbury since 2016.

The 29-year-old also played 22 matches for Manly, including the 2011 grand final triumph against the Warriors, before spending two years on a Mormon mission and returning in 2014 with Parramatta, for whom he made 38 NRL appearances.

He has also played 11 Tests for Tonga and captained the Pacific nation at the 2017 World Cup and in the historic 2019 defeat of Australia.

"Will is a guy I know extremely well," Woolf told the St Helens website. "He has played for Tonga since 2016 and captained Tonga in the past too which shows what a strong character he is.

“If I go back to 2019 and Tonga played against Great Britain and Australia, and he was one of our best players against two top quality teams on the world stage which gives you an idea of the quality we are getting."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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