Brisbane Broncos young gun Joe Ofahengaue signs three-year extension for $500,000 a year
Peter Badel, Exclusive, The Courier-Mail
May 3, 2019 3:27pm
The Broncos have struck a retention blow with Queensland Origin hopeful Joe Ofahengaue signing a $1.5 million extension to remain at Red Hill.
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold’s disappointment at losing Kodi Nikorima to the Warriors has been tempered by the news Ofahengaue has shunned interest from rival clubs to pledge his future to the Broncos.
The 23-year-old has agreed to a three-year deal, worth around $500,000 a season, keeping him at Brisbane until the end of 2021. The Broncos will formally announce the deal in the lead-up to their Magic Round clash against Manly this Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.
While Ofahengaue’s retention is a major boost for the Broncos, it will apply further salary-cap pressure as the club fights to retain key off-contract duo Corey Oates and Tevita Pangai Jr.
Oates’ management has begun preliminary talks with the Broncos, while Pangai Jr has no interest in contract negotiations until he improves his form after his recent return from a two-game suspension.
While Ofahengaue was quiet against Souths on Thursday night, running for just 90 metres in the 38-6 rout, he has been one of Brisbane’s most consistent players this season.
The 113kg bookend is averaging 121 metres and 26 tackles per game and is a contender for a Queensland front-row berth for the 2019 series opener on June 5 after being called into Origin camp last year by coach Kevin Walters.
A veteran of 78 first-grade games, Ofahengaue had the opportunity to test his value on the open market but was so content at the Broncos he wasn’t interested in a bidding war for his services.
Broncos skipper Darius Boyd believes Brisbane’s spluttering early-season form should not prevent Ofahengaue making his Origin debut next month.
“I believe his game is really suited to Origin,” 28-game Queensland star Boyd told The Courier-Mail.
“He’s got a great motor for a big guy and he doesn’t make many mistakes. They are the sort of attributes you need to be valuable in the Origin arena.
“Joe has been really solid for us this year, he would fit in well to the Queensland team.”
Ofahengaue will be keen to impress Maroons hierarchy in the Magic Round as the Broncos desperately try to improve their dismal 2-6 record.
After just two months, the Broncos are already in a battle to keep their finals hopes alive and Seibold has challenged his squad to eliminate the silly errors cruelling their season.
“I’m more concerned about how we can improve some individual performances and have an improved team performance,” he said.
“There were no excuses against Souths, we were outplayed.
“I am more concerned about finding some small gains and forgetting about the points table for a little while.
“It’s not ideal where we are, but that’s the reality of it.”