Kurt Capewell has quit the Brisbane Broncos effective immediately and signed with the New Zealand Warriors on a three-year deal. Capewell had one year remaining on his current Broncos contract and had been linked with an early release from Brisbane so the NRL grand finalists can free up salary cap space to upgrade deals for the likes of Reece Walsh and Ezra Mam.
The back-rower had been told that he wouldn't be re-signed by the Broncos past his current contract, leading him to look for an immediate release. “We’re thrilled to be able to lock in a player of Kurt’s quality and experience immediately,” Warriors general manager Andrew McFadden said on Thursday. “Quite apart from what Kurt will provide as a player, he’ll be immensely valuable with his experience in a mentoring role for the young back rowers we have coming through the club.”
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Broncos coach Kevin Walters paid tribute to Capewell, saying: "Capes has played an important role for us over the past couple of seasons, both on and off the field as we laid down the foundations to turn things around as a club. He is a great bloke and a wonderful servant of our game, and he has made a big impact at our club in a short period of time since joining us in 2021. On behalf of everyone at the Broncos, I'd like to thank Capes for all his efforts at the club and we wish him well.”
Kurt Capewell an Unsung hero for the Broncs…will be a huge loss… https://t.co/XL86jRzbFb
— Ian Hanson OAM (@hansonmedia) December 7, 2023
As a Broncos member, this is sad, but I get it. I think Kurt’s impact goes beyond his form on the field, and he is one of the reasons we have gone from wooden spooners to being in the GF.
Sad to see him go.
— journalistagendas (@journalistagen1) December 7, 2023
They do need the salary cap space
— Steve Woosnam (@SteveWoosnam) December 7, 2023
That's 4 of their Grand Final 17 gone
— Steve Woosnam (@SteveWoosnam) December 7, 2023
Not all is well in Brisbane the senior playing group is apparently fuming at the treatment of Capewell @tabet_matthew
— Cookie93 (@chris_cookie93) December 6, 2023
As reported last night the @brisbanebroncos have made it official - Kurt Capewell is now a Warrior on a 3-year-deal.
Club would've loved to keep him but more than happy to let him go now so he can secure his future. #NRL @NRLonNine @9NewsQueensland https://t.co/fQevQkE0LT
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) December 7, 2023
Huge coup for the @NZWarriors ahead of next season. After getting to the preliminary finals this year, they’ll have a significantly stronger squad by adding Kurt Capewell, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Chanel Harris-Tavita. @2GB873 @ContinuousCall #NRL https://t.co/fNM6qaXEqz
— Andrew Lucas (@LucasLowdown9) December 7, 2023
Broncos face Reece Walsh and Ezra Mam dilemma
The Broncos have just re-signed youngsters Jordan Riki and Brendan Piakura, meaning it was unlikely Capewell would be retained by Brisbane beyond his current contract. The Broncos are also desperate to keep the likes of Walsh and Mam to secure their future as premiership contenders, and could have released Capewell as a means to free up space to offer the star pair bumper contract upgrades.
Walsh pocketed around $450,000 in 2023, while Mam was on around $250,000, with both player's values skyrocketing after incredible seasons for the grand final runners-up. Tying down the pair seems to be top priority for the Broncos after they handed prop Payne Haas the richest deal in the club's history.
They have also re-signed representative forward Patrick Carrigan but Walsh is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown for Kevin Walters' side. Broncos great Corey Parker recently claimed the Maroons fullback was worth more more than $1 million per season. It remains to be seen how Brisbane could facilitate such a substantial contract upgrade without freeing up cap space by releasing players such as Capewell.
“I think they have to pay Reece Walsh a million bucks and probably more actually,” Parker told The Courier Mail. “If Payne Haas is on $1 million, Walsh has to be on at least $1.1 million. He should be the highest-paid player at the Broncos.” Parker said his marketability on and off the field for the Broncos makes the huge amount worth it for the 21-year-old.
It's understood if Capewell were to be granted an early release to join the Warriors it would be on a three-year deal for coach Andrew Websters' side. George confirmed that the Warriors interest in the veteran back-rower is for several years and is not dependant on him joining in 2024.
“We’ve (offered) a longer-term option here for him, he’s on the market for 2025 and that’s what we’re looking at,” George added. “If that was to eventuate and him and Brisbane decided that there an option for this year (2024) for us to talk about, we’d be happy to do that. But our interest has been around the longer-term proposition as well.”
Capewell joined the Broncos after winning a premiership with the Panthers in 2012. The talented back-rower - who has also showed his versatility by playing in the centres for Queensland in State of Origin - has played 41 games for the Broncos and was a key part of the side that made the grand final in 2023.
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