Brisbane's superstar fullback Reece Walsh and crafty five-eighth Ezra Mam look set to be rewarded for their stunning form in 2023 with bumper new deals that will secure their future at the Broncos. Walsh and Mam have been integral to the club's meteoric rise this season, with the Broncos one win away from playing in their first NRL grand final since 2015.
Ahead of the Broncos' preliminary final against the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, it's emerged the club is working on a “$5 million package deal” to extend the contracts of their young guns and ensure Walsh and Mam's futures remain at Red Hill.
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The Courier Mail’s Peter Badel says Walsh's new deal will likely see him become the NRL's latest million-dollar player - a just reward for a season that's included State of Origin success with the Maroons and seen the 21-year-old touted as one of the game's best fullbacks. It's understood the deals for Walsh and Mam would tie up their futures at the club until at least the end of the 2027 season.
“Their retention drive is in overdrive. Of course they’ve retained Payne Haas recently, they’re about to extend Adam Reynolds and now they are making moves to retain their wonder boys Ezra Mam and Reece Walsh,” Badel said on NRL 360. "They’ve started talks the Broncos with their dynamic duo Walsh and Mam to extend them beyond 2024. At the moment Reece Walsh, 21 year-old, he’s off contract at the end of next year, as is Ezra Mam, but the Broncos insist the duo are going nowhere.
“They are looking to extend them on what I hear is a potential $5 million package deal, at least three years for each of those players. Reece Walsh would become a $1 million player potentially... and Ezra Mam could earn upwards of $700,000 a season. I’m told those deals will be done after the finals but I don’t think they will go on the open market.”
Players entering the final years of their contract for the following season are free to negotiate with rival clubs from November 1, which probably explains why Brisbane are keen to sort the futures of their best players as soon as possible. Walsh was signed from the Warriors from the beginning of this season on a modest deal $450,000 per season, but his form in 2023 has seen his value skyrocket.
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“We’ve talked up Adam Reynolds deluxe about how influential he’s been at the Broncos but there’s no question the signature of Reece Walsh to return to Red Hill has been just as important,” Fox League’s James Hooper said on NRL 360. “He’s on an absolute steal of a deal at the moment, Brisbane only have to come up with $450,000 this season and next season. They need to upgrade him, they recognise that.
“It’s a great sign for the Broncos if these two aren’t going to wait until November 1 and test the open market. It’s a huge vote of confidence for the club because rival clubs would be absolutely queued up and you’d throw the chequebook at Reece Walsh from what we’ve seen this season.”
Brisbane already locked up Haas on the richest deal in Broncos history and have also re-signed representative forward Patrick Carrigan, with Walsh and Mam considered alongside those players as a central part in the future of the club. NRL 360 host Braith Anasta said locking up Walsh is particularly crucial for Brisbane, insisting rival clubs would happily offer him upwards of $1.2 million per season.
“Walsh would get $1.3 million at the moment. These playmakers who can change games and win games are few and far between,” he said. If he went to market I’d believe he’d get $1.2-$1.3 million.”
League journalist Michael Carayannis said the moves from the Broncos to shore up the future of Walsh and Mam make complete sense, as the pair - working alongside veteran halfback Reynolds - have been what has made the Brisbane attack click in 2023. “The speed that is the key for mine, because you have Adam Reynolds who is such a controlling half and a great general but he is complimented so well by having these elusive players on the outside of him,” Carayannis said. So, as important as Adam Reynolds is, he can’t do what he does without the speed of these sort of players.”
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