Joe Ofahengaue has cut short his time in Brisbane to join Wests Tigers on a three-year deal and spark a chain reaction of player movement across the NRL.
The forward signed a three-year deal to remain at Red Hill last year but will exit early after a wooden spoon season in which he lost his Queensland State of Origin spot as well as all 15 NRL games he played for the Broncos.
Ofahengaue’s departure after 105 games has allowed the Tigers to release prop Josh Aloiai from the final year of his contract to join Manly.
The Broncos are likely to replace the 25-year-old with versatile former North Queensland forward John Asiata, while on Sunday they announced the surprise return of 29-year-old back Dale Copley on a one-year deal after an injury-riddled stint on the Gold Coast.
After stagnating at Brisbane, 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.”
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.
But Brisbane chief executive Paul White said Ofahengaue would leave on good terms.
“Joe has been a big part of the Broncos for close to a decade … he has made a lot of friends during his time at the club and he will be missed by all of us at the Broncos,” White said.
“Everyone at the club wishes Joe, Sofi and little Mila all the best in the future.”
Aloiai has signed a three-year deal with the Sea Eagles – one that included an “undisclosed commercial settlement” – after five seasons with the Tigers.
“I have no doubt that his on field contributions will be immense and he will also support our existing leadership group in ensuring that our standards and culture are that of a high performance and winning organisation,” Sea Eagles chief executive Stephen Humphreys said.
“I’d like to acknowledge and thank the Wests Tigers for agreeing to release Josh so he can immediately join the Sea Eagles.”
Earlier on Sunday the Sydney Roosters confirmed the acquisition of versatile New Zealand Warriors back Adam Keighran on a two-year-deal.
The 23-year-old from the Central Coast signed off at the Warriors with a hat-trick of tries in the final game of the season.