Brisbane are flush with NRL salary cap funds courtesy both of Greg Inglis’s shock exit to the Rabbitohs last summer and captain Darren Lockyer’s looming retirement. And while yesterday ruling out Reds star Quade Cooper, Brisbane have a shopping list headlined by AFL defectors Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau.
The six-time premiers remain in the box seat to lure home their 21-year foundation coach Wayne Bennett next year.
But the club won’t stop there, however. Revenge missions on the AFL and rival NRL teams are also planned to get back their lost sons.
The Courier-Mail can reveal that along with Hunt and Folau, the hit list includes former ex-Broncos, Dragons fullback Darius Boyd and Rabbitohs prop Dave Taylor.
It is believed another top target is Test No.7 Cooper Cronk, a Brisbane junior who slipped through the Broncos’ net.
Hunt and Folau have already been factored into Brisbane’s long-term planning, despite the fact their AFL deals are not set to expire until 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Broncos football operations manager Andrew Gee last night confirmed the door remains open next year should either Hunt or Folau opt out of their bold cross-code move.
But Gee labelled as “courageous” their new career path and anticipates both would see out their current deals.
Boyd has publicly declared he will follow Bennett if the 61-year-old coach returns to Brisbane, but securing Taylor could take another 12 months, as the 125kg South Sydney wrecking ball is signed to 2012.
Cronk is also under contract in Melbourne until the end of next year, making any earlier move highly unlikely. He would prove an ideal replacement to Lockyer in Brisbane’s halves, as current No.7 Peter Wallace is a natural fit at pivot.
But the Broncos also continue to bank on the emergence of young stars Corey Norman and Ben Hunt.