Canterbury have signed one of the hottest young prospects in rugby league on a long-term deal – and it could spell disaster for current halfback Kyle Flanagan.
Kyle Oloapu – the Australian Schoolboys captain and prodigious playmaking talent – has inked a four-year NRL contract with the Bulldogs, leaving the Broncos after a messy contract saga.
The teenager is expected to feature in first grade at some stage in 2022, with new head coach Cameron Ciraldo extremely high on Oloapu and his talents.
Capable of playing both five-eighth and halfback, the club are looking at Oloapu as the long-term halves partner for Matt Burton, who also re-signed recently until the end of 2027.
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Speaking on SEN Radio, Bulldogs CEO Aaron Warburton talked up the prospects of Oloapu as an important signing for the club.
“I’m not the only one saying it, he’s probably the number one talented teenager in the game at the moment,” he said.
“[He has] still got a fair bit to prove, but obviously he’ll make one of the top 30 spots. When he plays first grade this year, that’ll be Cameron and the coaching team’s decision.
“He’s not a name that’s just popped up on the radar, he’s one of the most talented…most clubs are aware of him.”
With the excitement of Oloapu’s arrival in the air, the ripple-effect could spell the end of Flanagan’s time at Belmore.
The 24-year-old has failed to fire for the Dogs and his previous tenure at the Roosters ended in brutal fashion, with the playmaker running out of options in the NRL.
Flanagan is off-contract at the end of 2023 and The Sporting News understands he was quietly offered to Super League clubs during the off-season but has opted to stay put and fight for his NRL career.
Warburton said the decision to sign Oloapu was made to sure up their halves situation moving forward, pointing at a potential exit for Flanagan at season’s end.
“We’re hoping he fits a pretty vital role for us in the halves, having depth there has been a challenge for the club for a number of years,” Warburton said.
“He comes in as an eighteen-year-old with high hopes for himself personally but also for the club, Cameron is smart he won’t put too much pressure on him.
“He’s with us for the next few years, so we’ll make sure we’ll introduce him to the first-grade team when he’s ready, he’s only been here for three or so days at the moment.
“He’s probably getting his head around heaps of things not just where he fits into the team and combinations, but just getting used to the club which he will do very quickly I’m sure.”
Canterbury will kick off their season against the Sea Eagles on March 4th.