Walters shrugs off Titans’ bid to poach Broncos young guns
Brisbane coach Kevin Walters has ignited the Titans derby by hitting back at Gold Coast's poaching bid on Kotoni Staggs and Xavier Coates, claiming the dynamic duo will stay loyal to the Broncos.
The Broncos are under siege heading into Friday's night Queensland derby with rival recruitment chiefs looking to pick apart their roster, in particular targeting off-contract young guns Staggs, Coates and Tom Dearden.
The out-of-favour Dearden is being chased by the Cowboys, while the Titans are looking to continue their raid on the Broncos, eyeing off Staggs and Coates just nine months after successfully luring Fifita to the Gold Coast.
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Staggs has become one of the most sought-after players in the code, attracting offers in excess of $800,000 a season as Sydney-based rivals Manly and Parramatta also circle the explosive utility back.
The NSW Origin hopeful, sidelined until May following a knee reconstruction, has a 12-month option in his favour with the Broncos for next season, giving him the power to explore rivals offers this year.
Speculation has intensified that Staggs is seriously considering quitting the Broncos, with the Titans rated the frontrunners to secure his signature, but Walters scoffed at suggestions the 22-year-old will join Fifita at the Gold Coast.
"There's no concern at all," Walters said.
"Kotoni has been in our system for a long time now. He is a very loyal kid and I'm sure he can sense the turnaround in the small time I've been here at the club.
"We have plans around maintaining all those players (Staggs, Dearden and Coates) here in the Broncos jersey and at this stage nothing suggests that will not happen from my end."
The Cowboys are keeping a close on Dearden.
Cowboys coach Todd Payten met with him last month in Townsville for talks and the club has funds set aside to make a formal play should the 20-year-old be unable to dislodge Brodie Croft as Brisbane's No.1 halfback in the coming months.
Coates, meanwhile, held talks with Storm coach Craig Bellamy last Christmas and has links with the Titans as a Gold Coast junior who started his career alongside Dearden at Currumbin.
"They are all good players," Walters said. "It's nice to know other clubs are interested in our players seeing we're a team tipped to come last.
"Every club tries to pick off your best players, we do the same to other clubs, it's just nice knowing other clubs want our players. We have enough space in our salary cap to make sure our guys are re-signed, not just next year but beyond that."
In a boost for the Broncos, Coates has been cleared for the Titans derby after injuring his neck scoring a try in last week's 24-16 loss to the Eels, while John Asiata will take his place on the bench.
Asiata wore a Brent Tate-style neck brace at training this week and looks likely to wear it for the rest of his career to help with neck and shoulder ailments.
"John will have to wear the brace now given what has happened to him," Walters said.
"It looks a bit awkward but he feels comfortable wearing it and if it helps him on the field, we'll stick with it.
"Local derbies are good. I'm not worried about the Titans at all. We have a big job with our team and getting us to a level where we are all happy.
"I'm not sure what has been happening down the M1, my focus is on here."
Originally published as Walters shrugs off Titans' bid to poach Broncos young guns