Sport Confidential: Dolphins recruit from Broncos, Titans’ Payne Haas puzzle piece

Jake Turpin can’t take a trick right now with the out-of-favour hooker’s planned mid-season move appearing to fall through.

Jake Turpin is a man in limbo with the Broncos hooker’s planned move to the Knights in danger of collapse.

The off-contract Turpin requested a release from the Broncos last month and was granted permission to negotiate, fuelling speculation the tough-as-nails rake would end up at Newcastle.

The Knights have already thrown a lifeline to one former Bronco in Anthony Milford and Newcastle recruitment chiefs were looking closely at Turpin in a bid to bolster their hooking stocks.

Newcastle Knights target Jake Turpin. Picture: Tara Croser
Newcastle Knights target Jake Turpin. Picture: Tara Croser

Newcastle’s interest was one reason why Turpin sought an immediate transfer, but Sport Confidential understands the Knights are having salary-cap issues.

Should the Knights be unable to afford Turpin, the 25-year-old will have trouble finding another home so late in the season and could see out the year at the Broncos after all.

“Jake was looking to get an opportunity to play in the NRL,” Broncos coach Kevin Walters said.

“With Corey Paix (Broncos hooker) injured, the door has opened up again for ‘Turps’ and we are glad we didn’t let him go just yet. Turps is a tough competitor.”

DOLPHINS RAID 11 FROM BRISBANE BRONCOS

Meet the Redcliffe Broncos – the NRL’s newest club.

The Dolphins are ramping up their recruitment drive ahead of their NRL launch next season and have raided Red Hill for the bulk of their staff.

Inaugural coach Wayne Bennett spent 25 years at the Broncos across two different stints and will lead the Dolphins’ on-field charge.

Foundation CEO Terry Reader had a decade at the Broncos and hasn’t shied away from signing ex-Brisbane employees.

The Dolphins have recruited at least 11 people with links to the Broncos – on and off the field.

New Dolphins development coach Kurt Richards.
New Dolphins development coach Kurt Richards.

Reader has added ex-Broncos staffers Damien McDowell (COO), Shirley Moro (finance), Trad McLean (media), Tristan Croll (digital) and Katie Croll (events) to the Dolphins’ front office.

Bennett poached development coach Kurt Richards, academy fitness coach Anthony Wood and has signed Jamayne Isaako and Brenko Lee for his inaugural playing squad.

And that may not be the end of it as the Dolphins look to further bolster their operations once the club’s $13 million NRL grant kicks in from November.

With so many ex-Broncos joining the NRL’s expansion club, it sets the scene for a spicy cross-town rivalry.

GOLD COAST PUT ON NOTICE

TITANS coach Justin Holbrook says the sacking of fitness chief Klint Hoare is a wake-up call for the entire club as more heads get set to roll at Parkwood.

Hoare was axed last week following the Gold Coast’s crash to last place on the NRL ladder after 15 rounds.

The Titans have been the NRL’s biggest disappointments in 2022, failing to back up last year’s drought-breaking finals appearance and are now fighting to avoid the wooden spoon.

Hoare was the first scapegoat of the Gold Coast’s demise and he may not be the last after Holbrook admitted club powerbrokers wanted results.

“It was just unfortunate, we’re not going too well so changes have to be made,” he said.

“It was a tough decision that the club looked at. There’s a number of areas we’re looking at, we want to see change straight away.

Titans coach Justin Holbrook.
Titans coach Justin Holbrook.

“It’s probably a few (under pressure), it’s not just one role. There’s a few things … when you sit where we’re sitting you’ve got to make changes.

“That’s the nature of the business. We’ve got to move on and get on with the season.

“Everyone’s got to lift. It’s a wake up for everyone in the organisation, that’s for sure. Everyone is getting looked at, understandably.

“The club’s not sitting where they want to sit so that’s the nature of the business.”

While Holbrook enjoys strong support from club owners, pressure is mounting on the third-year coach to turn around the Titans’ poor results and he can’t afford to finish last.

BRONCOS STAR’S TITANIC CALL

HE is rated the next Cameron Smith – and Broncos hooking sensation Blake Mozer could have easily been a Gold Coast Titan.

The newly-minted Queensland under-19s hooker signed a three-year extension with the Broncos a fortnight ago. The 18-year-old is now locked into the Broncos until the end of 2025, but revealed how Brisbane scouts pinched him from the Titans’ backyard.

“I was born on the Gold Coast and still live on the Gold Coast. I have been here 18 years,” Mozer said.

“When I got to 15, I had some interest from the Titans, but they didn’t quite appreciate me the way the Broncos did.

“The Titans didn’t see as much in me as the Broncos, so it made it 10 times easier to choose Brisbane, especially as I followed them as a kid.

Blake Mozer. Picture: Liam Kidston
Blake Mozer. Picture: Liam Kidston

“I have just re-signed until the end of 2025, so I see my future there. I would love to debut for the Broncos and hopefully spend my entire career with the club.

“As a kid, I was a Broncos fan and my dream was to play NRL for the Broncos. My dream is slowly becoming a reality, but I have to keep working hard and only time will tell if I play NRL.”

The classy Mozer now weighs 87kg after adding 5kg to his frame during a bulk-up program and was rewarded with his Queensland Cup debut against the PNG Hunters a fortnight ago.

“It was challenging but I felt I held my own in defence,” he said. “I played about 50 minutes, so if I keep getting bigger in the gym, I think I will handle the physicality of the NRL.”

GALLEN KEEN TO BASH HODGES

NRL prize fighter Paul Gallen considered retiring from boxing after his recent loss to Kris Terzievski for the Australian heavyweight title.

But one bitter rival will convince him to fight on – Queensland foe Justin Hodges.

Hodges is in line for a $100,000 NRL super fight with Gallen after outclassing former Broncos teammate Ben Hannant in their Origin heavyweight clash in Brisbane on Wednesday night.

Gallen (12-2-1, 7KO) promised Hodges a showdown if he disposed of Hannant and the Broncos legend upheld his end of the bargain by belting his 2006 premiership colleague.

Hodges (4-1, 2KO) stands to pocket a six-figure sum by taking on Gallen. On this evidence, Hodges has to improve his fitness to have any hope of beating Gallen, but the Maroons legend is relishing the prospect of bashing the former NSW skipper for all Queenslanders.

“That’s what Queenslanders want … they want to see me knock out the dirty cockroach,” Hodges said of a proposed fight with Gallen.

“I know Gallen is more experienced than me, but I don’t give a shit.

Ben Hannant and Justin Hodges during their bout in Brisbane. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images
Ben Hannant and Justin Hodges during their bout in Brisbane. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images

“I don’t know how long I will last but I will have a crack and if I get him, he will be asleep, so let’s go.”

Before the fight, Gallen, who went 10 rounds last year with Australian heavyweight golden boy Justis Huni, said he would love to knock out Hodges.

There is genuine bad blood between the pair after their clashes in the Origin arena for NSW and Queensland.

“I know Hodges has a bigger profile and more people in New South Wales hate him, so I’d love for him to win and be able to get my hands on him,” Gallen said.

“I’ve got no doubt I’ll beat him.

“The Blues smashed the Maroons on the weekend (in Origin II) and I can’t wait to smash Hodges when I get the opportunity.”

BENNY LIGHTS UP THE NRL

NSW Origin legend Benny Elias is one of the most astute business minds in Australian sport.

He may have been the most hated man in Queensland during his reign as NSW hooker, but Elias is behind a novel concept that could light up Suncorp Stadium for the Origin decider on July 13.

Elias has invested in LED technology that lights up goalposts at major sporting events such as Origin II last Sunday night. The posts at Perth’s Optus Stadium were brilliantly illuminated in blue and maroon when NSW and Queensland players took the field.

The technology will be used for the upcoming rugby Test between Australia and England at Suncorp Stadium on July 9. Elias is also in talks with Suncorp bosses to bring a dash of colour and entertainment to Origin and Broncos games.

It is understood ARL Commission boss Peter V’landys is interested in bringing LED lights to NRL matches.

Rugby league legend Benny Elias. Picture: Christian Gilles
Rugby league legend Benny Elias. Picture: Christian Gilles

“The idea is going from strength to strength,” said Elias, who has made millions from property investment since his retirement from rugby league.

“I didn’t expect this response.

“You are always searching for something new to entertain the fans and the viewers at home and we can work these LED posts into the game of rugby league.

“We’re doing it for the rugby Test up here and I’ve had some talks with Suncorp Stadium and the Broncos about doing it for rugby league matches on a regular basis.

“It’s like Twenty20 cricket with the bails that light up. Around the world, LED lights have been a huge hit and I think it can be a smash hit for the NRL.”

FEROCIOUS PAYS THE PRICE

Former world champion George Kambosos has copped a rankings hit following his loss to American superstar Devin Haney.

‘Ferocious’ was the king of the lightweight division last month, but his world-title loss to Haney three weeks ago at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium has seen him slide down the global rankings.

In the latest rankings, Kambosos has dropped to No. 5 with the WBO and IBF, while he has dipped to No. 4 with the WBC.

Devin Haney lands a punch on George Kambosos Jr. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Devin Haney lands a punch on George Kambosos Jr. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Kambosos has enacted his rematch clause to again face Haney, possibly in October or November this year in Australia, and the 29-year-old is adamant he can reclaim the belts.

“I am very motivated. The eye of the tiger is back,” he said.

“I am back in the trenches and that’s the way I like it.

“The other day I went into the gym and no-one was around. It’s the way I like it. I am back in the shadows and now I look forward to challenging myself.

“I’m not going too crazy at the moment, I am back in the gym just taking it easy. I love being in the gym, it’s been a lot quieter now and I can do my best work now.

“My timing was off, the sharpness wasn’t there and Devin was a step ahead of me. He was the better man but let’s see what we produce in the rematch.”

MAROONS ACE THE MONEY MAN

Maroons selectors weren’t the only ones breathing a sigh of relief after news that Cameron Munster’s shoulder injury isn’t as bad as feared.

Punters had loaded up on the Queensland superstar to be the Wally Lewis Medal winner with TAB reporting a whopping 55 per cent of outlays on Munster claiming the Player of the Series award after being man of the match in Origin I.

Cameron Munster has his shoulder checked out. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Cameron Munster has his shoulder checked out. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

“Munster had held over 60 per cent of the market before Game Two but naturally there has been money for Nathan Cleary since his heroics in Perth,” said TAB’s Rohan Welsh.

“Still, Cleary is only the fourth best backed for Player of the Series with a little over 6 per cent, while James Tedesco holds around 9 per cent, along with dumped Broncos Centre Kotoni Staggs, after both were well backed for the award leading into the series opener.”

New South Wales is $1.65 favourite to wrap up the Origin series at Suncorp Stadium with Queensland $2.25 outsiders with TAB.

SHOOSH

WHICH Sydney hack has Maroons star Cameron Munster black-listed? Munster hasn’t forgotten the journalist comparing him to former NRL wild child Todd Carney and was quick to knock back an interview request last week.

THE DEALS THAT WILL SEE STARS SHIFT CLUBS

The Gold Coast Titans are circling Payne Haas as the NSW Origin superstar weighs up his future at the Broncos.

Sport Confidential can reveal the Titans are among a number of NRL rivals watching Brisbane’s contract saga closely at Red Hill as Gold Coast look to bring a double dose of Haas talent to Parkwood.

The Titans already have Haas’ younger brother Klese on their books and they have their hat in the ring to lure Payne to the Gold Coast.

The older Haas dropped a bombshell on the Broncos in May when his management emailed the club seeking an immediate release. Brisbane naturally rejected that request and have agreed to revisit the matter at the end of the season to allow Haas to focus on Brisbane’s finals charge.

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Payne Haas’ request for immediate release from the Broncos was turned down. Picture: NRL Photos
Payne Haas’ request for immediate release from the Broncos was turned down. Picture: NRL Photos

But if Haas, contracted until the end of 2024, cannot ultimately find common contractual ground with the Broncos, the Titans are one of several clubs ready to pounce.

Payne has a history with the Coast. He was contracted to the Titans as a 16-year-old before severing ties with the club to spend 12 months at the Warriors, who lost the front-row young gun to the Broncos after he met with Wayne Bennett.

Haas’ parents still live on a large property in the Gold Coast hinterland and the Titans underlined their regard for Klese six weeks ago when they handed him an upgraded two-year deal.

The one impediment for the Titans is money. The Gold Coast have a large chunk of their salary cap tied up in Haas’ former Broncos teammate David Fifita ($1.1 million) and Queensland Origin star Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who signed a four-year extension in November.

If David Fifita leaves the Titans the move would free up money for Haas. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
If David Fifita leaves the Titans the move would free up money for Haas. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

The Titans have been buffeted by speculation Fifita, struggling for form, may seek a fresh start under his former Broncos coach Bennett at expansion rivals the Dolphins, a scenario that would give the Titans the funds to make a major play for Haas.

Haas’ decision to delay talks until the end of the season is a sign the 22-year-old will consider all options, but Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy remains confident Brisbane can stave off the Titans and other potential suitors.

“We will sit down with Payne at the end of the season and look at what his long-term future is,” he said.

“We won’t do that while the season is going on, we have a great opportunity this year and we don’t want to disrupt things.

“Payne is a wonderful player and no doubt other clubs would be keen to sign him, but I’m still confident we can keep him here.

“The hard line of this game is that it’s a business and you don’t take things personally, otherwise you wouldn’t be in it for too long.

“We’ve been able to retain guys like Herbie Farnworth and Selwyn Cobbo and I’d like to think we can keep Payne here for the long term.”

Originally published as Sport Confidential: Dolphins recruit from Broncos, Titans’ Payne Haas puzzle piece

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