Billy Slater's staggering call on David Fifita as third NRL club looks to sign Titans star

The Panthers have sparked a three-way race to sign the Titans forward.

Queensland State of Origin coach Billy Slater has weighed in on the David Fifita contract situation, amid reports Penrith have offered the Titans superstar a three-year deal worth $850,000 per season. The move from the Panthers has sparked a three-way battle to secure the services of the Maroons Origin star, with reports emerging on Monday that the Dragons and Roosters had entered the battle for his signature.

Fifita has until round 10 gets underway in the NRL on Thursday night to activate the final two years of a lucrative contract extension he signed with the Titans last year. Fifita had a clause inserted into his deal with the Gold Coast that he could explore other opportunities in the wake of former coach Justin Holbrook's sacking. If he doesn't decide to activate his Titans extension by Thursday's deadline, then Fifita will be a free agent.

Queensland Maroons coach Billy Slater has weighed in on David Fifita's potential NRL switch from the Titans to Penrith. Pic: Getty
Queensland Maroons coach Billy Slater has weighed in on David Fifita's potential NRL switch from the Titans to Penrith. Pic: Getty

The cashed-up Panthers have salary cap space to sign a marquee player such as Fifita after agreeing to allow James Fisher-Harris to join the Warriors next season. The Kiwi Test prop was on a deal reportedly worth around $1 million per season and have expressed their interest in adding Fifita to an already formidable squad for 2025.

Penrith great Mark Geyer thinks Fifita could become a world class prop at the Panthers after backing him to make a positional shift next season. The rampaging back-rower could also slot into an edge forward role for the three-time defending premiers, similar to the one he plays for Gold Coast and the Maroons.

Queensland coach Slater thinks Fifita would benefit immensely from joining a Penrith side renowned for its structures and ability to develop players and help them realise their full potential. And the Maroons coach made the eye-opening claim that any potential move to the defending premiers would benefit the player more than the club itself.

"I think the Panthers would be better for David Fifita, than David Fifita would be for the Panthers," the Queensland coach said on Nine's Billy Slater Podcast. "They are a great side and you think about their back-rowers at the moment... David Fifita would certainly benefit from being at a team and a club that has high standards and demands a work ethic. I think he could play his best football there."

Slater says Fisher-Harris' shock request to be released to join the Warriors is the only reason the Panthers have been able to chase the signature of Fifita, despite losing a host of representative players over recent seasons. "You look at the players they have lost... but the one that has probably given the opportunity for David Fifita to possibly go to the Panthers is James Fisher-Harris," he added.


"They knew that they couldn't keep the other players, whereas James Fisher-Harris has just come out of the spur of the moment. They didn't really see this coming, they didn't plan for this, therefore they've got some money in the salary cap. Those other players had to leave because of the salary cap restraints. You might think they've won the last three premierships, how can they sign a player like David Fifita? But I think it's all due to the money that has been saved."

Pictured left to right are NRL stars David Fifita and James Fisher-Harris.
Penrith have space in their NRL salary cap to sign a star such as David Fifita after agreeing to let James Fisher-Harris join the Warriors in 2025. Pic: Getty

Penrith's interest in recruiting Fifita has sparked a three-way battle for his signature, with the Dragons and Roosters also readying big-money offers for the 24-year-old. The Dragons have the $850,000 salary they were going to be paying Zac Lomax next season before agreeing to let him leave for Parramatta in 2025. The Daily Telegraph reports Dragons officials are set to sit down with Fifita and his team and could feasibly blow the Panthers offer out of the water, having already had space in their salary cap before the Lomax development.

The Roosters are the third club to have approached Fifita and according to multiple reports are willing to offer the Titans star a longer deal than the Panthers, albeit for marginally less per season. According to reports the Roosters have tabled a four-year, $3.3 million deal worth around $825,000 per season. Fifita is expected to decide his future within the next 48 hours.