NRL: NZ Warriors confirm signing of Australian veteran Kurt Capewell on three-year deal

Kurt Capewell is officially an NZ Warrior.

The club has ended speculation by confirming the Australian forward on a three-year deal, parting ways with Brisbane Broncos.

Capewell, 30, was under contract with the Broncos for next season, but sought permission to negotiate with other teams for an early departure. He travelled to New Zealand to meet with Warriors coach Andrew Webster, who was an assistant during Capewell's previous stint at Penrith Panthers.    

A 2021 premiership winner with the Panthers, Capewell has made 139 first-grade appearances, since his debut with Cronulla Sharks in 2016, and has earned nine State of Origin appearances for Queensland.   

Kurt Capewell.
Kurt Capewell. Photo credit: Getty Images

Capewell was part of the Broncos side that lost this year's NRL Grand Final to Penrith and was at the Sharks, when they won the 2016 title, but did not make the matchday 17.

The Queenslander will be viewed as an upgrade on Josh Curran, who was released to sign with Canterbury Bulldogs.

Webster says Capewell is the ideal fit for the club's culture.

"Kurt is a winner with tremendous passion and a terrific work ethic," he said. "I thoroughly enjoyed working with him when we were both at Penrith, and I know from that experience that he’ll add so much to our squad and to the club in an overall sense.

"He totally fits the profile of the type of player we want at the NZ Warriors."

A regular 80-minute player with a 70 per cent winning record, Capewell averaged 84 metres and 30 tackles in his 24 appearances for the Broncos this year.

"We're thrilled to be able to lock in a player of Kurt's quality and experience immediately," said New Zealand Warriors general manager recruitment, pathways and development Andrew McFadden.

"With room in our squad, we tabled a long-term offer in the hope of bringing Kurt to club from 2024. We're grateful to the Broncos for their help in allowing him to leave early.

"Quite apart from what Kurt will provide as a player, he'll be immensely valuable with his experience in a mentoring role for the young back-rowers we have coming through the club."

Capewell's addition will go some way to filling the enormous void left by the likely departure of Addin Fonua-Blake, who seems destined to leave the Warriors with two years left on his contract at the end of next season.

Kurt Capewell celebrates a try for Queensland during last year's State of Origin.
Kurt Capewell celebrates a try for Queensland during last year's State of Origin. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Warriors reportedly have a shortlist of other players they're targeting to replace Fonua-Blake, which also includes Wests Tigers and NZ Kiwis star Isaiah Papali'i.

Joining the likes of returning former Dally M medallist Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Chanel Harris-Tavita, Warriors chief executive Cam George says Capewell will add immense quality to a squad already brimming with talent.

"He's a tremendous and professional person, first and foremost," George told Newshub. "Then you look what he can do on the park.

"He fits into our squad really well, which is extremely well balanced now - a lot of depth and a lot of quality deep into our squad."

Beyond Webster's seal of approval, George says he's received glowing assessments from members of the squad who have previously played alongside Capewell, including Shaun Johnson (Sharks) and Te Maire Martin (Broncos).

"He's a high-energy competitor and he knows what it takes to be at the top of his game, being an Origin player and a Grand Final winner.

"You marry that up with our young talent coming through and our current squad, he's going to add a lot of value, which we're very, very pleased about."