BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 15: Assistant Coach Kevin Walters gives directions during the Brisbane Broncos NRL training session on March 15, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
The Canterbury Bulldogs have paid the $500,000 transfer fee slapped on young gun Karl Oloapu by the Brisbane Broncos.
The saga of the game’s best youngster has gone up the gears this week.
The Broncos were reported as making Oloapu is available to rival clubs this week, but only if a $500,000 transfer fee is paid for the talented five-eighth.
He had signed a three-year deal with the Broncos and was due to be at the club until the end of 2025 without an official release from the Red Hill-based side.
However, that release has been made official on Friday afternoon, with the Broncos confirming the Bulldogs are the club who will land his signature.
“Whilst this was a unique situation, we are comfortable with the position we have reached with the Bulldogs and as a result, we have granted Karl an early release,” CEO Dave Donaghy said in a statement.
“We wish him well for the future.”
Oloapu said he his grateful for what he was able to learn at the Broncos.
“I’m grateful for what I learnt at the Broncos Academy and to the staff that played a role in my development during my years in the program,” he said in the statement.
“I’m also grateful to the Broncos for providing an early release from my contract.”
The Bulldogs confirmed his signature on a four-year deal immediately afterwards, although it’s unclear at this time whether all four of those years will be as part of the Top 30 or not.
“The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs are pleased to announce the signing of Karl Oloapu for the next four seasons, commencing immediately,” the Bulldogs said in a statement.
“Karl will relocate from Brisbane shortly to join the Bulldogs for pre-season training.
“The Bulldogs would like to acknowledge the Brisbane Broncos and the development work that they have already put into Karl’s career.
“We would like to thank the Broncos for their professionalism in dealing with this process and in providing Karl with the early release to pursue this opportunity.
“The Bulldogs will provide a more detailed report for Members once Karl arrives here at Belmore.”
It was last November when things originally went pear-shaped, with the youngster ultimately declaring he would never play for the Broncos as long as he lives.
It came after reports that he believed he was going to be signed to a Top 30 deal from 2023, and playing his preferred position of five-eighth.
Oloapu was between managers when he signed with the Broncos, and revealed to Wide World of Sports at the time that he had to attempt to understand the document on his own.
“I was between managers when I signed with the Broncos. I only went to see them with my older brother Joe for advice,” he said in November.
“They gave me a document that was more than 60 pages long and told me to sign it.
“I tried to read and understand it all in 30 minutes, but without a manager or legal advice it was very hard.
“The club told me I’d be in the Top 30 full-time players next year and that I’d be playing my preferred position of five-eighth and that I’d meet Kevin Walters, so I was happy.
“They gave me a chicken sandwich and that was it, we were shown the door. It didn’t feel right.
“Since then I have been told I’m not a part of the full-time squad and they want me play at lock or hooker and change the shape of my body.”
The Australian Schoolboys captain then asked for a release, but was blocked by the Broncos despite reported interest by the Dolphins, who were reportedly willing to double his salary.
He has since been training away from the Broncos, working instead with feeder club the Norths Devils, but the Red Hill-based club finally broke the stalemate this week by suggesting a $500,000 transfer fee could pave the way for him to exit the club.
The Broncos believed they could rescue the situation, however, it was clear it was untenable, with the Bulldogs landing his signature.
A five-eighth, he will begin his time at the club by learning from Matt Burton, but could be in line for an NRL debut during the Origin window, with Burton expected to play for the New South Wales Blues, and Canterbury short on depth in the halves.