It’s on: Titans ready to splash cash for Fifita
The Titans have formally expressed interest in David Fifita and requested a face-to-face meeting as Gold Coast culture chief Mal Meninga sparks a derby bidding war for the off-contract Bronco.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Titans hierarchy have officially entered the race for Fifita's signature with the Gold Coast possessing a $3.2 million war chest in a bid to steal the Broncos young gun from their Queensland rivals.
Fifita's retention at the Broncos was considered a fait accompli, especially after Sydney clubs recently aborted their pursuit, but the Queensland State of Origin star has revealed he isn't sure if he will be at Red Hill in 2021.
That has opened the door for the Titans, who pose the greatest threat to the Broncos given their geographical location, which would allow Fifita to remain in his family home in Brisbane even if he played for the Gold Coast.
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While Meninga last year lauded Fifita's talent, the Titans never made a formal play as Sydney clubs led a $1 million charge for his signature.
That has now changed, with Fifita's manager Steve Deacon fielding a call from Titans bosses seeking a formal meeting with the forward.
Brisbane are firmly in the box seat to retain Fifita, and they are still highly confident of keeping him, but if the issue solely came down to money, the Titans could outbid them.
The Broncos' salary cap constraints this season mean Brisbane are likely to offer Fifita a one or two-year deal with a view to offering him a more lucrative mega contract as he approaches his mid-20s.
The Titans can table a huge package immediately.
It is believed Meninga has the salary-cap room to offer a four-year deal worth up to $800,000 a season - a $3.2 million bonanza.
The 107kg player, who will celebrate his 20th birthday on Tuesday, has ties to the Gold Coast.
Fifita attended the prestigious Keebra Park High and has several close friends at the Titans, including Tanah Boyd and forward Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, with whom he played in Queensland junior representative teams.
Fa'asuamaleaui will link with the Titans next year when he completes his commitments to the Storm and he has already phoned Fifita spruiking the merits of joining him on the Gold Coast
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Titans culture boss Meninga secured Fa'asuamaleaui's signature after seeing the Storm player in Gympie over Christmas and now the rugby league Immortal wants to meet with Fifita to pitch his vision for the club.
Meninga has a huge opinion of Fifita, handing the Broncos backrower his maiden Australian jersey for last year's World Nines at Sydney's Bankwest Stadium.
Fifita's comments that he is in no rush to sign with Brisbane will no doubt fuel the Titans' desire to strike while the forward is vacillating over his next move.
"I'm not too sure what I'm going to do to be honest," he said.
"I'm happy at the Broncos.
"(But) It's a business at the end of the day … you know how it works."
Queensland Origin lock great Billy Moore said the Broncos could not afford to lose Fifita.
"He's a once-in-a-generation forward," Moore said.
"I'm sure Fifita could earn more on the open market so it's up to the Broncos to put forward a competitive offer which I'm sure they will."