Souths ready to splash cash for big forward target
Wayne Bennett has compared Jai Arrow to Rabbitohs legend Sam Burgess as South Sydney ramped up its bid to lure the Queensland Origin star to Redfern.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Rabbitohs hierarchy will meet with Arrow's manager David Riolo on Wednesday to discuss a mammoth $4 million bid to bring the Gold Coast Titans forward to South Sydney.
Rabbitohs boss Shane Richardson has already met with Arrow and South Sydney is preparing a formal offer to snare the Maroons gun's signature on a long-term contract from 2021.
The Titans insist they are doing as much as they can to keep Arrow on the Gold Coast in the wake of South Sydney's huge proposal, but culture boss Mal Meninga has warned they will not pay overs to retain players.
Speaking for the first time about his bid for Arrow, Rabbitohs coach Bennett confirmed he wanted to reunite with the former Bronco at South Sydney.
"We would like to have Jai at South Sydney," Bennett said.
"I haven't spoken to Jai personally, Shane Richardson is handling it all. Richo is meeting with his manager in the next 24 to 48 hours. He has already met with Jai and that's our position.
"We'll have a conversation over the next 24 hours and hopefully Jai's manager is happy with our offer.
"Me and Jai work great together. He knows if he comes to South Sydney I will want him here. It's a great club with a lot of tradition and Jai would fit in well here.
"I let Jai go at the Broncos. I was honest with him. I told him he was ready for first grade and he was stuck behind a few blokes and he deserved to get an opportunity somewhere else. I have been proven right on that.
"You can't hold young men back. If they can't get an opportunity at your club you need to give them a chance because it is about their careers. At the Broncos I had plenty of forwards and Jai wasn't guaranteed to be picked every week."
Arrow, 24, debuted at the Broncos under Bennett in 2016 and played 24 NRL games in two seasons before heading to the Titans.
He has made 38 appearances for the Titans over the past two years and developed into a Queensland Origin mainstay, but the Gold Coast now faces a fight to retain the local product.
The Titans have discussed a three-year extension with Arrow, but South Sydney's proposal is more lucrative and would see him join a successful club from the reigning wooden spooners.
The Rabbitohs are expecting to have cash to splash following the injury-forced retirement of Burgess and Bennett said Arrow was the ideal player to replace the English star.
"We need to sign a forward," Bennett said.
"We've lost the best forward in the game in Sam Burgess so we're not going to buy a halfback or a centre, we need a forward and Jai Arrow is the ideal type of guy to replace Sam.
"Every player is unique but there are similarities between Sam and Jai. Sam is a bigger body than Jai but Jai is a competitor and he gives all of himself. His teammates would love playing with him.
"I love what he gives every week. He is not the biggest player in the game but one of the most effective players in the game. He has learned how to use his body properly in a game that is dominated by big men.
"He is a lot like Cameron Murray, smaller guys who are effective and love playing the game so they can adjust and maximise what they have got."