Broncos prop eyes $2 million payday
Broncos prop Joe Ofahengaue is eyeing a $2 million payday as Brisbane fights to retain one of the NRL's most promising front row combinations.
The Courier-Mail can reveal the Broncos have opened formal negotiations with the off-contract Ofahengaue for a new deal worth about $500,000-a-season.
A potential four-year extension would see Maroons hopeful Ofahengaue form a mouth-watering front row alliance with NSW Origin contender Matt Lodge, contracted at Red Hill until the end of 2020.
Ofahengaue, 23, admitted he was in discussions with rival NRL clubs, but his preference was to re-sign with the Broncos.
"I'm on contract for this year and I want to fight my hardest for a contract here,'' he said.
"The Broncos are where I want to be. I am talking to other clubs, just to keep some insurance.
"It's a discussion for how long I want to stay here. We'll go into more discussion here (with the Broncos) in the next few weeks.
"I know at the Broncos we can do something special. It's such a young team."
Ofahengaue bounced back into form last year after being embroiled in a casino cheating scandal in 2017.
He was banned from Treasury Casino in Brisbane for a year and struggled to make a mark in the NRL despite playing in Brisbane's 2015 grand final losing team.
But the 113kg prop fought his way back to the cusp of Queensland Origin selection in 2018 while supporting his partner through a breast cancer battle.
Ofahengaue, a member of Queensland's Emerging Origin squad this year, is now set to cash in on his career resurrection and Broncos captain Darius Boyd said it was crucial Brisbane retained him.
" 'Jof' was unlucky not to play in Game Three of Origin last year," he said.
"I'd be very surprised if he didn't get the nod this year for the Origin team.
"He is fit, fast and a leader on the field. He is one of the fittest guys in the club.
"He works really hard, he asks questions and wants to be better.
"He is someone we definitely don't want to let go."
Lodge, also 23, and Ofahengaue will start together in the front row furnace when the Broncos kick off their 2019 NRL campaign against the Storm in Melbourne on Thursday week.
In his second season at the Broncos, Lodge said he wanted to form a long-term partnership with 70-gamer Ofahengaue.
"I hope he sticks around," Lodge said.
"I'm excited about playing with him. Hopefully we can get some results.
"We have been working together all pre-season and feeding off each other.
"You know he'll be consistent and keep doing his job. He values all the little things and working hard. It's good to play with someone like that."