Only a few months after Wayne Bennett declared that Dale Copley would be Justin Hodges successor, the utility back could be forced out of the Broncos.
With good footwork, speed and plenty of strength Copley was given the nod for the position over candidates such as Kiwi international Jordan Kahu.
However, once James Roberts had signed a contract with the Broncos after the forged signature fiasco at the Titans, it became apparent that the Dally M centre of the year would be Hodges’ heir.
On signing Roberts, Broncos Chief Executive Paul White said it was a stroke of luck that the club managed to sign him. Copley could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. No longer guaranteed a place in the starting line-up Copley needs to leave the Broncos.
Since making his debut for the Broncos as a 17-year-old in 2009, Copley has been in and out of the side due to injury and has played at fullback, wing and centre. 2016 was supposed to be his year.
After being a solid performer in 2011 and early 2012, Copley missed the final eight games of 2012 with a broken leg. He didn’t play another game for Brisbane until 2014 due to suffering a knee injury in a trial game in 2013.
Despite the two major injuries, the youngster returned for the 2014 season and produced his best season to date. Playing in all 25 of the Broncos matches, Copley scored 16 tries in the process with his good form being rewarded with a place in the Kangaroo’s train on squad.
The return of Wayne Bennett for the 2015 season was successful for the club. However, Copley played only a handful of games with Oates and Kahu preferred on the wings and Reed and Hodges chosen in the centres.
At 24 years of age, now is the time for Copley to make a name for himself. With the Cowboys, Titans and Panthers reportedly interested in signing him, he isn’t short of options.
Although a move to the Gold Coast would almost assure him of a starting berth but the chaotic state of the club could make the move less appealing.
The chance of reuniting with former coach Anthony Griffin at Penrith could be tempting. With Copley enjoying his most successful season under the tutelage of Griffin 2014, he could move south with centre likely to be his position.
The success of other Brisbane discards at the Cowboys could tempt Copley up north. With Granville, Hannant and Winterstein all part of North Queensland’s premiership winning team last season, the chance to enter a winning culture would be playing on Copley’s mind. A move to Townsville would be a brave move as it won’t guarantee him a starting position. However, with the talent at his disposal, Copley can secure a position in the backline if he stays fit.