NRL 2020 Transfers: Brisbane Broncos, Wests Tigers, Joe Ofahengaue, Michael Maguire, Kevin Walters


When Joe Ofahengaue was called in for a meeting with new Broncos coach Kevin Walters, he had a feeling it was not going to end well.

The new Tigers recruit is adjusting to his new start under Michael Maguire but speaking to reporters on Monday, he opened up on the tough conversation with Walters that kickstarted the move.

“Kevvie and I have a pretty good relationship … I think. But we talked a lot before he got the job and after he got the job he called me in [for a meeting],” he said to media on Monday.

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Round 1

RTS a Warrior for 2021

1:10



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Wests Tigers recruit Joe Ofahengaue on the chats that changed his career


“I had to call Kevvie later and tell him I had nothing on the table [before resuming training] and how ‘I’ll be unemployed if I leave’. Then the Tigers popped up. They gave me a lifeline. I had nowhere else to go.

“‘Madge’ [Maguire] wanted to have a Zoom call. The CEO [Justin Pascoe] was there as well. They told me their plans, who they wanted to sign. I bought in straight away. I rang Madge after the call and said, ‘Madge, I really want to come to this club, and if you want to coach me give me a call back. He did.”

Joe Ofahengaue stretches out at Concord.Credit:Edwina Pickles/SMH

Ofahengaue, 25, who played Queensland Origin last year, was not the only Bronco to have a year to forget. As he best summed it up: “I didn’t forget how to play footy, I just had a really bad year.”

He said Maguire’s tough ways reminded him of working under Wayne Bennett, and while the two coaches were different in their approach, both subscribed to the timeless theory of ”the fitter you are the better you’ll play”.

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A proud Queenslander, Ofahengaue, who signed for three years, said he would have no issues settling into Sydney, especially with his partner Sofi and daughter Mila by his side.

Former Penrith skipper James Tamou and young Eel Stefano Utoikamanu will also bolster the Tigers pack, while there is already a lot of excitement in the what Shawn Blore can produce with a full pre-season under his belt.

James Roberts adds speed out wide while the Tigers remain hopeful Panthers flyer Daine Laurie, who has signed for 2022, will be granted an early release and given the chance to push for the starting fullback spot.

Ofahengaue’s joined his Tigers teammates for just his second session on the same day the club confirmed Josh Reynolds would take up a lucrative deal with Hull FC immediately.



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Ofahengaue ready to repay Tigers’ faith


Joe Ofahengaue reckons he didn’t forget how to play rugby league last year, but hopes Michael Maguire can remind him how to do it well.

The former Queensland State of Origin forward experienced a fall from grace last season as Brisbane suffered through a losing slump that resulted in their first NRL wooden spoon.

The 25-year-old was far from the only player out of form, but with two years left to on his Broncos contract he felt like he’d run out of options to play first grade.

And when the Wests Tigers came knocking with a three-year-deal he jumped at the chance for a fresh start in Sydney.

“I didn’t forget how to play footy, we just didn’t have the best year last year,” he said on Monday.

“I can honestly say only two guys really stood out for me in that Broncos team but the rest of us had a bad year and ended up with the wooden spoon.

“Madge (Maguire) has told me just to come here and restart and try to be my best and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Rumours of a rift between player and club emerged with Ofahengaue on the outer and battling to hold onto his place in the team under new Broncos coach Kevin Walters.

However, after 105 NRL games and two Origin matches the prop has a fire in his belly to get back to his best under Maguire.

“Obviously it was very frustrating not knowing where I was going to be playing … I had an extra two years at the Broncos but things happen and people need to move on and I was one of them,” he said.

“I was grateful for my eight years there and I have no grudges against the Broncos or anything.

“I’m not going to lie, (the Tigers was) probably the only option I had to be honest but it was such a blessing.

“I’ve still got a career in the NRL and I owe a lot to the Tigers.

“I’m indebted to the whole club. I know Madge wanted me as a coach but the whole team have accepted me for who I am. I could have stayed at the Broncos but I chose to be here.

“It’s a new challenge for myself and my partner Sofi being away from family, but it’s a sacrifice I’ve got to make.”

It’s the second stint in Sydney for Ofahengaue who was at the Sydney Roosters as a teen before deciding he needed to be at home with his family in Brisbane.





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NRL 2020: Transfer Centre, Daley Copley to Broncos, signings tracker, Josh Aloiai, Joe Ofahengaue


New Broncos coach Kevin Walters has added some depth to his back line with the signing of Dale Copley on a one-year deal.

Copely returns to the Broncos, where he started his NRL career, after a one-year stint with the Roosters and a four-year stint with the Titans.

The 29-year-old made his NRL debut for Brisbane in 2009 and went on to play 72 games. He returns with 143 games worth of experience under his belt — something Broncos CEO Paul White is pleased to add to the squad.

“He is a product of our development system and a passionate Queenslander, and he will bring some leadership to our playing group,” White said.

Round 1

“Dale played some of his best footy in our Club colours, and I’m sure Broncos members and fans will love to see him back.”



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Wests Tigers sign Brisbane Broncos forward Joe Ofahengaue after releasing Josh Aloiai to join Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles


The Wests Tigers have agreed a compensation fee with Manly for disgruntled prop Josh Aloiai’s immediate release after the joint venture signed Brisbane’s Joe Ofahengaue on a three-year deal.

Having been told he could expect to “mow the lawns at Leichhardt and Campbelltown and paint the sheds at Concord” to fulfil his contract after agitating for an early release to the Sea Eagles, Aloiai will replace Addin Fonua-Blake in Des Hasler’s pack.

The Tigers announced they had struck “an undisclosed commercial settlement” with Manly for Aloiai, who will take up a three-year deal on the northern beaches.

It avoided a potentially sticky situation after the club told Aloiai to report for pre-season training on Monday or be in breach of his Tigers contract.



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West Tigers sign Joe Ofahengaue, Brisbane Broncos


The Wests Tigers have officially signed forward Joe Ofahengaue on a three-year deal, effective immediately.

On Sunday, the Brisbane Broncos granted the Tonga representative a release from the final two years of his contract.

Wests Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe welcomed Ofahengaue to the club, praising the 25-year-old’s talent and ability.

“Joe is a representative forward and another high-level addition to our squad for 2021,” Pascoe said in a statement.

“We identified that Joe’s athletic ability and power can add great value to an already impressive group of young forwards and having another State of Origin representative player join the club further signals the positive direction that Wests Tigers is heading in.

“We’re all looking forward to watching Joe excel in the Wests Tigers colours.”

Ofahengaue made his NRL debut against the Cronulla Sharks in 2015, and has since represented the Broncos in 195 games.

Tigers coach Michael Maguire said Ofahengaue’s experience would be a valuable asset for the club, who finished 11th on the NRL ladder in 2020.

“Joe has a tremendous hunger and determination to produce his best football with Wests Tigers and we’re excited to see him on the field with us in 2021,” Maguire said in a statement.

“At 25, Joe is already an experienced forward in the NRL who has played at an extremely high level in his career and I know he will add a lot to our team in the years to come.”

Broncos chief executive Paul White wished Ofahengaue and his family all the best for the future.

“Joe has been a big part of the Broncos for close to a decade after starting in the NYC team in 2013 and working his way into first grade at the start of 2015,” White said in a statement.

“He played in a Grand Final in his first year of NRL, something not many players have achieved, and has gone on to play for Queensland in two Origin games, as well as Tonga at international level.

“Joe has made a lot of friends during his time at the club and he will be missed by all of us at the Broncos.”

Meanwhile, former Tigers prop Josh Aloiai has joined the Manly Sea Eagles on a three-year deal.

The Australian journalist Brent Read tweeted: “Wests Tigers get financial settlement for Josh Aloiai and Brisbane chip in for Joe Ofahengaue, a player with talent and a point to prove. That’s the way you do business in the off-season.”



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NRL 2020 Transfers: Josh Aloiai to Sea Eagles, Joe Ofahengaue to Wests Tigers, Michael Maguire


The Wests Tigers have confirmed the release of Josh Aloiai and signing of Broncos forward Joe Ofahengaue on a three-year deal.

Aloiai pushed for an immediate release from the club earlier in the month.

The Tigers though were standing their ground according to club chairman Lee Hagipantelis, who was adamant Aloiai would see out of his deal until the end of 2021.

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Round 1

Teenager steals the show

3:00



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Ofahengaue leaves Broncos for Wests in NRL


Brisbane have released Joe Ofahengaue from his contract, allowing him to join Wests Tigers on three-year deal and trigger more movement around the league.

The Broncos enforcer signed a three-year deal to remain at Red Hill last year but will exit after a wooden spoon season in which he lost his Queensland State of Origin spot.

Ofahengaue’s departure after 105 games has allowed the Tigers to release prop Josh Aloiai from the final year of his contract – he is expected to head to Manly – while the Broncos are likely to replace the 25-year-old with versatile former North Queensland forward John Asiata.

It comes less than a week after Ofahengaue appeared at Brisbane pre-season training under new coach Kevin Walters, who has vowed to return Brisbane’s reputation as a destination club.

Tigers coach Michael Maguire said Ofahengaue’s experience and versatility appealed to him.

“Joe has a tremendous hunger and determination to produce his best football with Wests Tigers and we’re excited to see him on the field with us in 2021,” he said.

“At 25, Joe is already an experienced forward in the NRL who has played at an extremely high level in his career and I know he will add a lot to our team in the years to come.”

Brisbane chief executive Paul White said Ofahengaue would depart on good terms.

“Joe has been a big part of the Broncos for close to a decade after starting in the NYC team in 2013 and working his way into first grade at the start of 2015,” White said.

“He played in a Grand Final in his first year of NRL, something not many players have achieved, and has gone on to play for Queensland in two Origin games, as well as Tonga at international level.

“Joe has made a lot of friends during his time at the club and he will be missed by all of us at the Broncos.

“Everyone at the club wishes Joe, Sofi and little Mila all the best in the future.”





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Tigers set to land ex-Bronco Ofahengaue


Joe Ofahengaue’s Red Hill exit is imminent after the former Queensland forward changed his social media bio to ‘ex-Brisbane Broncos player’.

In a sure sign the 25-year-old is set to depart the club, Ofahenague’s Instagram update has come before the Broncos could confirm his NRL release.

But once approved, the Wests Tigers will announce the 25-year-old will join the NRL club on a multi-year deal after releasing Josh Aloiai to Manly.

Once Ofahenague’s release is confirmed, it will open the door for the Broncos to announce the signing of North Queensland utility John Asiata on what is understood to be a one-year deal.

The transfers are set to be confirmed on Saturday, continuing a string of movements in the NRL market.

The signing of Aloiai will fill a hole in the Sea Eagles’ pack left by international prop Addin Fonua-Blake, who has been released to the Warriors.

And it will come after the club secured two of the brightest young wingers in the NRL for next season.

St George Illawarra released highly-rated winger Jason Saab from the final two years of his contract to take up a three-year deal with the Sea Eagles.

The move was made official on Friday morning after months of speculation surrounding the future of the 20-year-old.

After playing seven NRL games with the Dragons and announcing himself as a future representative player, Saab won his long-term battle with the club to secure a release.

A player swap was originally explored between the clubs but the Dragons finally settled on an undisclosed transfer fee paid by the Sea Eagles.

Saab will start training with Manly next week.

It’s understood Saab was angling for a release to a Sydney-based club for personal reasons.

The commute from his home in Greystanes to Wollongong was a contributing factor.

However, joining the Sea Eagles will not save him much time as the trip north to Narrabeen from Sydney’s west takes more than an hour.

Regardless, it’s a huge win for the Sea Eagles who also picked up Christian Tuipulotu in their recruitment blitz.

The young winger made his debut for the Sydney Roosters earlier this year and has been signed by Des Hasler on a four-year deal.





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NRL 2020 Transfers: Brisbane Broncos, Joe Ofahengaue, Matt Lodge, Kevin Walters, Anthony Milford, Rumours


Not much seems to be going right for the Brisbane right now.

Still reeling from their worst-ever finish in club history, the Broncos have now been handed what the Fox Sports Lab deems the hardest draw for 2021.

Further to this, the appointment of Kevin Walters as coach is supposed to restore pride and lift Brisbane back into finals contention.

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Round 1
Kevin Walters may not find strong replacements if after them. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images



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