Fifita shuns Titans’ millions: ‘Dave won’t leave Broncos’
David Fifita will shun a $3.2 million offer from the Titans and sign a new deal with Brisbane after making a pact with teammate Payne Haas to build a premiership-winning dynasty at the Broncos.
That is the assessment of the most influential person in Fifita's contract negotiations, his mother Gwen, who has revealed the motivations behind the Queensland Origin star's desire to remain at Red Hill next season.
The Sunday Mail can reveal Fifita met with the Broncos last week to verbally outline his plan to sign a new deal with the club at a time when the coronavirus saga has left 184 off-contract NRL players in limbo.
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Fifita is one of those free agents, but the NRL's instruction last week to freeze new contract registrations during the COVID-19 crisis does not concern the 20-year-old because he plans to stay loyal to the Broncos for 2021.
The Titans have expressed interest in Fifita, armed with a four-year deal worth about $800,000 per season. The Gold Coast's overtures follow a recent pursuit by South Sydney, who tabled a massive $6 million, five-year offer, only for Fifita to reject the deal.
Titans culture chief Mal Meninga has vowed to go hard for Fifita but Gwen, a key figure in negotiations, has provided the most compelling insight yet, saying her son has no interest in quitting Brisbane.
"Dave wants to stay at the Broncos," Gwen Fifita said.
"The whole contract issue has become forgotten because of everything that has happened (with the coronavirus pandemic).
"Just the other night, we were on the couch watching some old games on TV and Dave said, 'Mum, we have a really good side at the Broncos and if we stick together, we can win premierships. We will be unstoppable'.
"That tells me Dave won't be leaving the Broncos.
"He is really happy at the club and people don't realise how close Dave is to his teammates like Payne Haas. He stays at Payne's place all the time and Dave's main concern is making sure all the guys stick together at the Broncos."
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Fifita reinforced his standing as the hottest back-row property in the code with a barnstorming 70-metre solo try in round one against the Cowboys before the NRL competition went into suspension.
There were suggestions the COVID-19 ordeal would help rival clubs such as the Titans pull off a Fifita poaching bid - but it will do the opposite.
With NRL clubs bracing for a 20 per cent reduction to next season's $10 million salary cap, no team will be able to offer Fifita $1 million, nor seriously threaten the $700,000 Brisbane have set aside in their payment ceiling for the Maroons hulk.
South Sydney tried and failed to poach Fifita over summer. Rabbitohs legend Sam Burgess flew north for a secret meeting as part of a Redfern charm offensive, but Fifita, while flattered, politely declined the deal.
"Souths offered him so much money," Gwen said. "We sat down and did all the numbers but it's not like you get $1 million in the hand.
"People talk about $1 million contracts, but by the time you take out tax, Dave wouldn't earn much more at Souths than he would at the Broncos.
"Sam Burgess never came to our house. I don't know Sam, I haven't met him in my life. He came to Brisbane and he met up with David, that mission was to specifically meet up with Dave to sign him.
"Wayne (Bennett, Souths coach and Fifita's former mentor at Brisbane) teed it all up. They caught up in the city. I was supposed to attend but I didn't go because I was working.
"Putting the money aside, Dave doesn't like the Sydney life. He doesn't like the traffic and the bustling life. It would cost him a fortune to buy a place in Sydney so he would be earning less down there anyway."
The Titans are the only other realistic option for Fifita. He has links to the Gold Coast, having attended Keebra Park High, and has a bond with Titans-bound recruit Tino Fa'asuamaleaui. They played in Queensland junior rep teams and Tino has personally called Fifita urging him to reunite on the holiday strip.
But Gwen believes Fifita's ties with Broncos prop Haas are unbreakable, especially after their terrifying Bali ordeal last year.
"The Titans are always fishing for David, they have been showing interest," she said.
"Dave loves the Gold Coast area, don't get me wrong, he went to school there, but he loves football at the Broncos and the relationships he has built with the players.
"There has been talk about Tino joining the Titans and being mates with Dave, but they never went to school together. Dave went to Keebra with Tanah Boyd and Mo Fotuaika from the Titans.
"Tino and Dave played in Queensland rep sides and they get on well, but his best mate is Payne. They want to stay together.
"The Broncos are home for Dave. He is totally comfortable there."
Originally published as Fifita shuns Titans' millions: 'Dave won't leave Broncos'