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Gold Coast Titans star David Fifita accepts Sydney Roosters' unexpected offer

Andrew Mathieson -

As quickly as David Fifita informed Gold Coast he would not trigger the clause in his contract to extend his reign past a fourth season next year, the ball-playing forward did not hesitate to sign up with the Sydney Roosters from 2025 for the next four years.

Fifita had until 8pm on Thursday to take up the option at the Titans for the next two years.

The Torres Strait Islander told the Titans earlier in the day that he was quitting.

There was no rush to sign elsewhere.

But just a few hours later, he already accepted an offer believed to be worth $3.3 million until the end of the 2028 NRL season.

That decision came out of the blue for Penrith, who allegedly presented its own deal around $2.5 million for the next three years.

Gold Coast was hoping to extend Fifita’s contract for two more seasons on $500,000 per year.

But neither Des Hasler, Gold Coast’s new coach, nor Penrith’s three-time premiership mentor Ivan Cleary knew the Roosters and Clint Robinson had built up a war chest to make a late-pitch for Fifita's services.

While the decision is a blow to Cleary and his star halfback son Nathan, who both met up with Fifita just on Wednesday, the Titans will be hurt considering that Hasler was building a gameplan around Fifita to lift the club back into the finals after more than five years.

Gold Coast put on a brave face on Thursday before Fifita had even announced where he was heading, through the club expected it would be the heavily-favoured Penrith and not towards Bondi.

The club has made the finals just four times in 14 past seasons, accepted two wooden spoons and is currently only one place away from receiving a third at season's end.

“The club is growing,” Hasler insisted at the press conference on Thursday.

“So far this year, the results don’t lean towards that.”

Fifita’s move to Sydney will have ramifications for partner Shaylee Bent, an NRLW player still contracted at the Titans for this coming season.

The first-year Titans coach after two stints previously at Manly, the club of his playing career, and another period coaching with Canterbury, has promised there will not be repercussions, and Fifita will still play on Sunday against North Queensland and finish out the season on the Gold Coast amicably.

“I think that is unfair to say that he is abandoning the ship,” he said.

“He has made a decision.

“It is not about abandoning ships.

“Everybody knew what was on the table.”

Fifita’s departure is expected to free up significant money in the club’s salary cap.

Gold Coast acquired the versatile prop come second-rower in similar circumstances after he abandoned the Brisbane Broncos after collecting the club's first wooden spoon.

Hasler also has plenty of time on his hands to consider Fifita’s long-term replacement, but conceded that the dual Australian and Tongan Test international loss was part of the transfer market.

“I guess it’s disappointing, but it is all a part of the game and part of the theatre,” he said.

“It is part of the football merry-go-round that footballers come and go, move on from club to club, all the time.

“David’s a wonderful player; he’s been a good acquisition for the club,

“But he has decided his time has come to an end.

“He’s going to move to Sydney to pursue his footy career and footy interests down there.

"The club sincerely wishes him all the best.”

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