Former Gold Coast Titan James Roberts is set to fill the big shoes left by retired Brisbane captain Justin Hodges after signing a two-year deal with the Broncos.
The reigning Dally M Centre of the Year knocked back offers from the Dragons and South Sydney in order to play under Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.
Roberts, 22, is a free agent after a Titans contract forgery bungle in which Roberts didn’t sign his lucrative new deal with the club and it was instead initialled by a club staffer, who has since resigned.
He is set to join his new Broncos teammates on January 4.
Roberts is believed to have signed the deal on Tuesday night.
South Sydney coach Michael Maguire and CEO John Lee had met with Roberts on the weekend and saw him as an ideal replacement for Dylan Walker.
Roberts is a South Sydney junior and played 10 NRL games for the Rabbitohs in his 2011 debut year, before switching to Penrith for 2013, where he played six games.
He was eventually sacked by both clubs for disciplinary reasons.
Roberts’ manager and uncle Jeremy Donovan said a move to Brisbane under Bennett was considered best for his “personal development”.
Broncos boss Paul White said Roberts was an unexpected but exciting replacement for Hodges, who drew the curtain on his glittering career after their NRL grand final loss to North Queensland.
“We certainly did not expect this opportunity and James and his advisor have conducted themselves very well during the negotiation,” he said.
“James is obviously motivated to play for the Broncos for the benefit he will see both on and off the field.
“James is one of the most exciting young players in the NRL and we believe playing in the Broncos’ system can help take his game to the next level.”
Roberts – a 2016 Indigenous All Stars selection – became one of the league’s hottest properties after scoring 16 tries in 24 games for the Titans this season.