Seibold: Broncos can’t afford to chase Ponga
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold has ruled out signing Queensland Origin star Kalyn Ponga as the Broncos ramp-up plans to retain blockbusting back-rower David Fifita.
Newcastle chief executive Phil Gardner said yesterday his biggest fear of retaining Ponga was not the prospect of a poaching bid from the All Blacks, but the power of the Broncos brand in luring him back to Queensland.
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But Seibold scoffed at speculation he could make a big-money play for Ponga, saying Brisbane do not have the salary-cap space to match Newcastle's mega $4 million-plus offer to retain the Maroons dynamo.
"We are guided by a salary cap so that is pie-in-the-sky sort of stuff," Seibold said.
"If we had open slather of course I'd go for Kalyn Ponga. He's an outstanding player.
"But every club has got a salary cap. It is not like the Premier League (in English football) where you can pay what you want for a player.
"Certainly Kalyn hasn't been in any conversation (with the Broncos).
"He's a fantastic player and I think any club in the competition would want someone like Kalyn in their group regardless of what position he plays.
"But we certainly haven't spoken about him so I am not sure where that came from."
Seibold's more pressing priority is keeping NRL rivals at bay for the signature of Fifita, the Queensland Origin wrecking ball who remains off-contract, and said last week he was in "no rush" to sign a new deal.
That comment has emboldened several NRL suitors, chiefly the Titans, who have expressed formal interest and whose culture chief Mal Meninga is keen for a face-to-face meeting with the Broncos back-row weapon.
Privately, the Broncos are so supremely confident of keeping Fifita, they are happy to wait several months to finalise a deal, and Seibold is adamant Brisbane will not lose the code's hottest forward property.
"One hundred per cent we want to keep him (Fifita)," Seibold said.
"The Broncos' frame of mind is that (they won't lose him).
"Of course, I'm very positive. I don't want to comment too much on recruitment and retention but I am really comfortable and confident with where we are at.
"Dave wants to let his footy do the talking and we want to provide an environment for David to feel comfortable and play his best footy.
"There has been so much commentary around Dave. He's a (20)-year-old kid, so let's just ease up on him and let him play his footy."