Mark Geyer's call on David Fifita as Ivan Cleary responds to reports about Penrith move

Penrith have reportedly offered the Titans forward a big-money deal to switch clubs.

Mark Geyer has predicted a positional change for rampaging Titans prop David Fifita in the NRL next year, amid reports the Penrith Panthers have made a three-year, $2.5 million offer for the 24-year-old. The Sydney Morning Herald's Michael Chammas revealed on Nine's NRL coverage on Sunday that the Maroons star had flown to Sydney for talks with Penrith coach Ivan Cleary and Panthers officials about a move to the three-time defending premiers.

It's understood the cashed-up Panthers have made a big-money offer to the second-rower, who has a get-out clause in his current deal with the Titans. Fifita and Gold Coast teammate Tino Fa'asuamaleaui both signed lucrative extensions with the club last season, which were tied to the future of former coach, Justin Holbrook.

On the right is Penrith great Mark Geyer and Titans NRL star David Fifita on left.
Penrith great Mark Geyer reckons his former club will turn David Fifita into a powerhouse prop if he joins the club from NRL rivals the Gold Coast. Pic: Getty/Fox League

Following Holbrook's sacking last year and the appointment of Des Hasler for this season, it means Fifita has until round 10 to decide if he wants to activate the last two years of his contract and stay with the Titans until the end of 2026. That means the Maroons superstar remains a free agent until Thursday, with a deadline fast approaching for him to make a decision.

Panthers coach Cleary kept his cards close to his chest when pressed on reports they'd offered Fifita a deal worth around $850,000 a season from 2025. "It's obviously a very sensitive issue, all recruitment," the Penrith coach told reporters on Monday. "It affects a lot of people at clubs, players, agents, families. I think we've probably filled our quota for recruitment stories this year so I'm not going to discuss it today."

The Panthers have suddenly got plenty of space in their salary cap for a marquee player such as Fifita, following the shock decision to allow Kiwi prop James Fisher-Harris to sign with the Warriors next season. Jarome Luai is also set to join the Wests Tigers and a move for Fifita could see him slot into Penrith's back-row. But Panthers great Geyer thinks the greater likelihood is the hulking Maroons forward will slot into the middle to replace Fisher-Harris at prop.

" James Fisher-Harris is going next year, so all of a sudden a lot of money is freed up," Geyer said on Triple M's Mick and MG in the Morning radio show. "Penrith can now put themselves in a position to buy another marquee player which they didn't see coming two to three months ago. He (Fifita) will be fantastic and I think Ivan can turn him into a real powerhouse front-rower." Geyer added that he thinks Fifita would be a "fantastic fit" for the Panthers.

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 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

At his best, Fifita is arguably the most damaging forward in the NRL and his signing would make the already dangerous Panthers an even more formidable outfit and set them up for years to come. His potential move could also pave the way for Scott Sorensen to revert back to a middle forward for Penrith and Fifita to take over the left edge forward role that's seen a rotating cast of players since Viliame Kikau joined Canterbury before 2023.


When pressed further about Fifita on Monday, Penrith's coach admitted "he's a marquee player" and that the club could be looking to make tweaks for 2025 following another year of high-profile stars exiting at the end of the season. "We're always looking to evolve," Cleary said.

"If you're just staying the same, you're going to get passed. There's always a danger if you do that too much, you lose track of what you're good at, too. It's a bit of a balance. We got that a little bit wrong early last year." It's an unfamiliar position for a side famed for its ability to scout and develop elite junior prospects. In fact, only six players who made their debuts elsewhere have won a grand final with the Panthers in the last three years.

with AAP