Yeah mate, I'd agree it was a huge fuck up on our behalf, especially considering, as you said, we had them in our backyard and had every opportunity to be looking at them. My reference to the salary cap was more in regards to when they debuted, which was I think 2002. Now without bothering to google (I can't anyways, it's blocked in China) what our roster was in 2002, I'd say that Lockyer was there with Prince, Webb, Tate, Tallis, Tuqiri, Webcke and I think Langer was still running around at that point.
With that in mind, how do you sign a half? I can bet you're bottom and mine that we'd love to have kept Elgey and Ash Taylor (who we did have as juniors) as well but it's almost impossible to do when they are ready for FG and you don't have a spot on the roster for them. You can't stop a guy from talking to other clubs when they come knocking and you can't begrudge a kid walking into a starting FG spot.
Where we really went wrong with the three earlier mentioned is that, IIRC, we didn't even have them under contract at the Broncs. Oversight? Maybe but I don't think so. Just plain stupidity more like it. But I guess that's the advantage of hindsight.