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Broncos plan future on the back of Indigenous trio

Andrew Mathieson -

Brisbane Broncos coach Kevin Walters has figuratively handed the keys to the front door of the club to the three Indigenous backs, who changed the outlook at the Red Hill headquarters beyond last year.

The continuing success of the team appears to hang on pleasing Ezra Mam, 20, Selwyn Cobbo, 21 and Reece Walsh, also 21, any way possible extending to living with their mentor.

The emerging trio alone added immense value last year to lift the Broncos to a breakthrough minor premiership while remaining mere dying minutes away from a first grand final triumph in 17 years.

"We do see Ezra, Selwyn and (Reece) Walshy, as our long-term players here," Walters boldy said at the club's third preseason session of the new year.

"We like to see them here in the future – they can move in here if they want.

"My place even, wherever."

But to satisfy each player to remain loyal, it's something uniquely different.

For Mam, it's really in the hands of the club negotiating towards his terms.

The talk is that a $3 million deal over four years will prevent the Brisbane-raised five-eighth from crossing town to probably join new outfit, the Dolphins.

The Broncos powerbrokers say they are closing on obtaining the key signature of the Torres Strait/Kuku Yalanji man for a long-term contract beyond the 2024 NRL season.

But for the man who played the same playmaker position as Mam, he has been forced to do nothing but sit on his hands in the meantime.

"I do believe it is coming very close, but then again, it's up to the powers that be to get it all put together," the coach said.

"I'm sure it's going to happen – it's just a matter of when, basically.

"I'm very confident he'll stay.

"He loves the place here and we love him here

"We're working very hard, well, management are, to get Ezra his deal where he is comfortable, which I'm sure we can do."

For Cobbo, at least, Walters has some control and all of the tactical say.

The loss of English import Herbie Farnsworth to their Redcliffe rivals this season has opened up a plum spot in the centres.

Since the Wakka Wakka man was spotted running drills at left centre during training, Walters readily admitted the switch from the wing was now Cobbo's to keep.

"That's the plan is to move him into that role," he said.

"Selwyn is a bit more natural in the centres than on the wing, and so far, he has been really good there.

"I guess we'll find out more when we start playing and he starts making tackles, and doing those things that the great centres do.

"So he's going to have to play like a centre now."

Tipping the scale at a shade under 100kgs, Cobbo nearly matches the sheer size of the outgoing Farnworth albeit it significantly taller.

But more importantly, the third-year player has an opportunity to match up with his good Wiradjuri mate Kotoni Staggs in what could be a future premiership pairing.

"Selwyn is still only young, his fitness and strength will get better also, as the year goes on," Walter said.

"But it's his footy IQ that's very good.

"He's actually a very intelligent player, and he'll be a good asset for us defensively by the way he reads the attack."

For Walsh, there was just the one line and a relieved grin that said it all.

"(Walshy) is where he belongs in Brisbane," Walters said.

This remark comes after the Broncos had once secured the Murri and Maori teenager on a development contract before – in the same season – losing the gifted fullback for the following two years to the Warriors over a perceived lack of opportunities.

Walsh, along with Mam, were generally accepted as the two chief instigators and best players behind Brisbane's early second-half revival that gave the side a 24-8 lead and on its way to an upset win over Penrith in the dramatic 2023 grand final.

Those cameo performances has Walters convinced his men are better for the 26-24 defeat.

"We watched some important pieces from the (grand) final," he said.

"What we gathered is that we're heading in the right direction as a team."


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