Rival interest levels for off-contract Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs have risen once again despite Parramatta and Gold Coast recently pulling out of the race for the 22-year-old.
Staggs is yet to make a call on his future from 2022, with the Broncos and Bulldogs now being joined by the Novacastrians in pursuing his signature.
Speaking on NRL 360 this week, Hooper revealed that Staggs is hoping to lock-down a long-term deal as Newcastle begin their negotiations with the Wellington product.
“Kotoni Staggs we’ve spoken about Parramatta, I heard he knocked the offer back because they wouldn’t offer him a fourth season,” Hooper said.
“I’ve heard the Knights are a smokey and are at the negotiation table which would explain why he’s holding on for so long.”
Reports have suggested Staggs is waiting out to see if the Broncos can land a high-profile playmaker for next season, with a move to five-eighth on the cards when the Brisbane bull returns from an ACL injury in the latter half of this season.
Senior journalist Phil Rothfield believed the two parties were close to agreed terms on a move that would see Coates head to Victoria from 2022.
“I then got a phone call over the weekend saying that Xavier was on a plane after his Friday night game, flying to Melbourne. He met with the Storm and had a look at their facilities.
“They tell me he’s on the verge of signing with the Storm.”
The twin departures would be the latest of highly-touted talents to leave the coop before reaching their full potential, with Roosters half Sam Walker and Warriors young gun Reece Walsh having left the Broncos in recent seasons prior to making their debuts.