The NRL’s most sought-after forward, Jeremiah Nanai, plans to be a Cowboy for life, inking a four-year contract extension with North Queensland.
- Nanai had experienced heavy interest from a number of NRL rivals
- The 19-year-old is counted as one of the best young forwards in the NRL
- Nanai said he was glad to end speculation about his future
The Cowboys fought off fierce interest from rival clubs to secure the 19-year-old Dally M Rookie of the Year until at least the end of 2027.
The homegrown star’s 2022 breakout season boasted three caps for Queensland in its State of Origin series victory and two Tests for Australia in their World Cup campaign.
Nanai told reporters on Wednesday he intended to stay in Townsville long term.
“I’ve always wanted to stay here. This is my home,” Nanai said.
“That’s the goal. Hopefully [we’ll] win a title before my contract ends.”
Nanai said he was glad to end speculation about his future before the start of the 2023 season.
“A bit of relief there. My manager spoke to me about other clubs wanting me but I told him I really want to stay and I’m just happy he got the job done,” Nanai said.
“My family’s just down the road … and I just bought a house [here] too.”
A junior with the Cairns Kangaroos, Nanai scored 17 tries for the Cowboys in 2022 — the most in a single season by a forward in the club’s history.
“We now have the key pieces of our team across the park under contract for multiple seasons,” Cowboys general manager of football Michael Luck said.
“His progression under Todd [Payten] and the coaching staff last season was remarkable.”
“He can do things in games very few other players in our game have the ability to do.”
After a notoriously challenging pre-season under coach Payten, Nanai said he was eager to take on the Broncos in Saturday night’s trial match on the Sunshine Coast.
“I came back a bit sloppy, to be honest … but I’m just keen to play some footy,” he said.
“I’m just excited for round 1 and to get the season started.”