Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin



DANE Gagai will return to Newcastle in 2022, paving the way for South Sydney to throw Anthony Milford an opportunit­y at the Rabbitohs next season.

Gagai has opted to return to Newcastle, rejecting a one-year contract extension at South Sydney and a three-year deal from the Broncos.

Instead Gagai will join the Knights next season on a deal worth about $1.5m.

A changing of the guard is underway at Redfern with Gagai following coach Wayne Bennett plus teammates Adam Reynolds, Jaydn Su’A and Patrick Mago out the door.

Gagai had a successful six seasons in Newcastle, playing 128 games for

the Knights between 2012-17, where he developed into a Queensland and Australia representa­tive.

The Rabbitohs hoped they could convince Gagai to re-sign for a further 12 months which would have opened up the door for him to consider joining a new expansion team.

Broncos coach Kevin Walters viewed the 30-year-old as the perfect centre option to fill the void of strike weapon Kotoni Staggs, who will shift to five-eighth next season in a new scrumbase pairing with Reynolds.

The Broncos hoped by signing Reynolds they may have been able to attract Gagai, who made his first grade debut at the club, as well.

Bennett said Gagai broke the news to his teammates on Friday afternoon.

“South Sydney couldn’t offer him a long-term contract, so we knew he was on the move,” Bennett said.

“He spent a lot of his career at Newcastle and he has some family there, I think he’s pretty happy to be going back.

“I think he’s playing his best football at the moment. Each year I’ve been here he’s gotten better.”

Gagai will join a star-studded backline at the Knights which includes Kalyn Ponga, Bradman Best, Hymel Hunt and Mitchell Pearce.

The Knights view Gagai as a perfect mentor to some of their rising superstars.

The turnover of players at South Sydney will present a challenge for incoming coach Jason Demetriou who will replace Bennett at season’s

end. The Rabbitohs have already discussed making a play for Milford and now they will consider if they offer the Bronco a one-year deal to potentiall­y partner Cody Walker in the halves.

While Bennett has no say on South Sydney’s recruitmen­t plays he has given Milford a glowing endorsemen­t.

“I think he’d be a great acquisitio­n for South Sydney, but that’s a decision that’s not on my watch now, it’s on Jason and the rest of the club,” Bennett said.

“But I would have no hesitation if the market value was there and it would benefit South Sydney, which I believe it would.

“But it’s just about the price they can pay and what they can’t do.”

 ??  ?? Dane Gagai of the Rabbitohs will join the Newcastle Knights from 2022 on a deal worth $1.5m despite interest from Brisbane. Picture: Getty
Dane Gagai of the Rabbitohs will join the Newcastle Knights from 2022 on a deal worth $1.5m despite interest from Brisbane. Picture: Getty

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia