League legend Scott Sattler has issued a stern warning to the Gold Coast over the eye-opening contract situation around Titans forward, David Fifita. Reports emerged this week that the representative forward became a free agent on November 1, despite signing a three-year extension with the NRL club earlier this year.
The Titans touted the extension of the Maroons forward at the time, with Fifita agreeing on a deal to keep him at the club until the end of the 2026 season. However, the 23-year-old had a coaching option written into his contract that allowed him to potentially change his mind after the sacking of former coach Justin Holbrook.
Fifita was reportedly ready to leave the club after Holbrook's exit but has since had a change of heart. Former Manly premiership coach Des Hasler will take the reins at the Titans in 2024 and it's been revealed a secret clause in Fifita’s contract reportedly allows him to first build rapport with the veteran mentor before deciding if he wants to stay at the club long-term.
The destructive edge forward has player options for the 2025 and 2026 seasons meaning he is effectively a free agent. News Corp reports that Fifita has until round 10 of the 2024 season to decide whether he is happy to work with Hasler at the Titans and take up his player option for the following season.
League great Sattler - who won a premiership with Penrith and also played on the Gold Coast with the Chargers during a decorated career - warned the Titans that they need to take a firm stance with Fifita, in light of the curious contract situation. "The club have to be strong, draw a line in the sand and say this is what we stand for, you either want to get on board or you don't," he told 9News Queensland. "You can't be one foot in, one foot out."
Sattler said rival clubs would inevitably try and test the waters around Fifita and his situation on the Gold Coast across the first 10 rounds of the new season. The 23-year-old is one of the most damaging forwards in the NRL when in top form and has a knack of finding the tryline like few other big men in the game.
" I reckon (after) the first nine or 10 rounds ... as devastating as what we think he will be, well then clubs will start enquiring with his manager," Sattler added. "That's just the way it works."
Fifita and fellow Maroons forward Tino Fa’asuamaleaui both committed their futures to the Titans in 2023, with the latter convinced to stay after discussions with his teammate and new coach, Hasler. Fa’asuamaleaui signed a massive deal that keeps him at the club until the end of 2033 but also has a get-out clause written into his deal that allows him to leave the Titans at the end of 2026 if he so chooses.
Des Hasler optimistic about Titans prospects
Hasler will be desperate to get his star duo on the same page as he chases a first premiership in the Titans' history. The veteran coach is confident Gold Coast has a spine capable of propelling them into the NRL finals and has taken confidence from the success of local rivals the Brisbane Broncos as he aims to turn the Titans into a powerhouse in 2024.
“You've only got to look at one of the grand finalists from the last game; where they were a couple of years ago and where they are now,” Hasler said after being unveiled as Titans ew coach. “So it all turns; it turns on a coin almost.
"You've only got to look at the Newcastle Knights and the way their season they went (as well); Kalyn Ponga was retiring, they were in the bottom six after Round 11; so that's what that window is and it's a great opportunity to seize it.
“(For us), it's around performing capability-wise and playing that consistency of games across the season. To put it simply, it's about raising the expectations and raising the capabilities... (and with) experience, now that they've played a number of seasons, (that experience) should start to kick in, that's how you gain that consistency.”
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