NRL legend Gorden Tallis has fired up at sports journalist and Triple M colleague Ben Dobbin in a heated on-air exchange over David Fifita's contract extension with the Gold Coast Titans. Fifita turned down overtures from a number of clubs and took a considerable pay-cut to stay at the Titans, after the club confirmed his three-year contract extension this week.
The Courier Mail reports that the new deal is worth around $800,000 per season or $2.4 million all up - a $600,000 shortfall on his previous contract. It represents a significant downgrade on the previous deal with the Titans that made him the highest-paid forward in the competition.
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Fifita was the record signing for the Titans after being poached from the Broncos in 2020, on a massive three-year deal worth around $3.2 million. The eye-watering figures raised eyebrows raised at the time and there has been a widespread sense in league circles that the hulking forward has failed to justify his lofty price tag.
Discussing the 23-year-old wrecking ball's contract extension with the Gold Coast, Tallis took aim at Dobbin for suggesting that it was "not a big deal". The Queensland and Kangaroos great took his colleague to task, suggesting that ion Fifita had instead signed with the Broncos or Raiders - two of the clubs reportedly interested in his services - then Dobbin would have thought differently.
“What did you think of the David Fifita [contract]? Tallis asked. "Because on your radio show you said you don’t care but if he had signed with the Raiders or Brisbane you would’ve thought, ‘Oh, it’s a big signing’. But if he re-signs with the Titans it’s not a big deal.”
Tallis then offered to replay Dobbin's comments after the journalist said he "can’t recall" making such a statement about Fifita. The journalist added: “I just think his performances over the last few years have been a little bit underwhelming. And that’s honest.”
Dobbin pointed to Fifita's whopping $1 million price tag and suggested it was an investment that had failed to pay off for the Titans. However, Tallis urged his colleague to “take the money out of it” and claimed Fifita had turned down a larger offer to join the Bulldogs when he first signed with the Gold Coast.
“The deal that Brisbane offered him, the first time he went to the Titans, I think the Dogs offered him the most money," Tallis said. "This is what I get a bit annoyed [about]. He knocked back money to go to the Titans. He knocked back about $100,000. That’s a lot of money.
“The same with Luke Brooks. He didn’t go to the Tigers and hold a gun to their head. They gave him the money and everybody talks about it. Is he worth it? That’s the salary cap.”
Gorden Tallis jumps to David Fifita's defence
Dobbin continued to argue that Fifita had not played to his worth, prompting another spray from Tallis. The three-time premiership winner insisted that the forward's struggles in previous seasons had a lot to do with the quality of the teammates around him.
"He needs help. Basically, if you understand football and the people that write this don’t, as a backrower you need someone giving you good service," Tallis said. "You need great service. He has just blown sides away with his own brute force and now there’s four or five guys.
"There’s more guys tackling him than any other player in the game and no one in front of him could see a gap and go through. Kieran Foran, first play he goes, ‘I’m straightening you up’, he comes on the loop, straightened the bloke in front of him, Adam Doueihi, a good defender, got hooked on him and Dave [Nofoaluma] runs past him, didn’t want to get in his way.
"Once you get someone that can deliver you better service... Dave has had to pick it up from dummy-half and go himself and on every tip sheet, guarantee you, Dave Fifita because he’s not a great passer, everybody got into him. He had no help. So when people were looking at Dave, people were looking at the wrong thing. They were looking at the people that were supposed to pass to Dave. Kikau was good. How’s Kikau going from the Dogs with no service?”
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