The Dragons will win the tug-of-war for Andrew McCullough with Brisbane coach Kevin Walters set to reluctantly release the veteran hooker.
The Dragons will win the tug-of-war for Andrew McCullough with Brisbane coach Kevin Walters set to reluctantly release the veteran hooker.

Shock twist as Dragons close in on Broncos target

The Dragons are closing in on a deal for Andrew McCullough with Broncos coach Kevin Walters unable to guarantee the veteran hooker's future beyond this season.

Walters has been so impressed with McCullough's fightback from a serious hamstring injury the 31-year-old was touted as a possible captain and was on track to become Brisbane's starting hooker for round one against Parramatta.

But the McCullough affair has taken a twist with the former Queensland Origin hooker requesting an immediate release to the Dragons unless the Broncos table an extension to match the Red V's two-year deal.

McCullough is off-contract at season's end and wants the security of an extended deal at the Dragons, whose coach Anthony Griffin mentored the rugged rake more than a decade ago in Brisbane's under-20s.

While Walters is a huge fan of McCullough, the Broncos can free-up more than $500,000 in their salary cap by releasing him to the Dragons.

Sources close to negotiations say the Red V could snare McCullough's services as early as next week pending private discussions between the clubs.

Walters ideally wants McCullough to play a significant role this season but admits the Broncos are not in a position at this stage to match the Dragons' longer-term deal.

"Like a lot of our players who are off-contract, we want to see them play some football and then we will go from there," Walters said.

"Andrew is no different. I want him to play the football I know he is capable of and if he does that, he puts himself in the frame to get a new deal.

"We're going to have a meeting about his future and to be honest I'm not sure where it's going to end."

Walters said the prospect of releasing McCullough is agonising given his outstanding contribution to the Broncos.

"Look, I've made it clear I want to keep Andrew," Walters said.

"We've had some discussions and I want to keep him here this season, he's a Broncos legend.

"I know how I feel about it and I want him to stay. He has a big role to play under me and he has a contract with us for this season."

Former Broncos skipper Gorden Tallis believes McCullough has more to offer the club after falling out of favour with former coach Anthony Seibold last season.

"It's a tough decision for the Broncos," he said.

"They have Jake Turpin on their books and McCullough has a longer-term offer from the Dragons.

"Macca has been a great player for the club for a long period of time, but the Broncos have supported him coming back from his hamstring injury.

"It's a big decision for Kevvie and the recruitment-and-retention committee.

"Turpin seemed to have the jump on him last year but now that 'Macca' is back, he has a huge fan in 'Kevvie'."

Originally published as Shock twist as Dragons close in on Broncos target



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