Pursuit over as Broncos finally get their main man
Brisbane's 2020 premiership campaign has received a huge boost with Broncos coach Anthony Seibold poised to complete his raid on Storm halfback Brodie Croft.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Seibold is close to snaring the signature of Croft, who is expected to be formally announced as a Bronco on Monday pending an official release from his existing employer Melbourne.
Seibold first met with Croft in September and there were times during Brisbane's protracted two-month pursuit when it appeared the Broncos would not have the salary-cap space to accommodate the Australian under-23s halfback.
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Just last month, Croft's intended move to Red Hill next season was on the brink of collapse as the Storm baulked at paying a major subsidy to release their Cooper Cronk clone.
But well-placed sources say decisive progress has been made in recent days.
It is understood the Storm have agreed to fund a minor severance package, enough for the Broncos to put together a two-year contract that will secure Croft until the end of 2021.
Melbourne officials have yet to formalise a release but coach Craig Bellamy is expected to give the green light over the weekend, clearing Croft to become a Bronco as early as Monday.
The 22-year-old privately believes he has played his final game for the Storm and is keen to embark on a fresh start at the Broncos, with the Dalby product hoping to appear at Brisbane training next week.
The impending transfer of Croft will ease concerns over Brisbane's scrumbase depth in 2020 and give Seibold fresh tactical options as the Broncos look to hit back from last season's 58-0 finals debacle against Parramatta.
Seibold has a huge wrap on teenage halfback Tom Dearden but he is mindful of putting too much pressure on the 18-year-old, who played just five NRL games in 2019 before succumbing to ankle surgery.
Under Seibold's plan, Croft will be Brisbane's first-choice halfback next season with the classy Dearden to be his understudy, continuing the fine development he showed this year.
Seibold will use the pre-season to settle on Croft's scrumbase partner but Anthony Milford is set for a return to the No.6 jumper, leaving Jamayne Isaako, Jesse Arthars and Queensland under-20s ace Tesi Niu vying for the fullback spot.
Since his NRL debut in 2016, Croft has played 39 top-grade games and featured in Melbourne's 2018 grand-final loss to the Roosters.
Despite being axed on the eve of last season's finals, Croft believes he has the game-management to complement Milford and make the Broncos a title contender in 2020.