Fight for Fifita: Broncos win race for teen sensation
BRISBANE'S NRL rivals have given up hope of orchestrating a big-money poaching raid on David Fifita, paving the way for the teenage sensation to sign a multimillion-dollar upgrade with the Broncos.
South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett revealed the Rabbitohs were out of the race for Fifita, underlining the sentiment of Sydney-based clubs who have conceded defeat in the battle for the Origin star's signature.
Six months ago, the Broncos faced the real possibility of losing Fifita after Parramatta and the Warriors formulated $1 million plans to snare one of the code's hottest forward properties.
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But the fight for Fifita is over, with the Broncos ace to remain at Red Hill beyond this season as a number of factors force Brisbane's NRL rivals to abort their quest to lure the Australian Nines hulk away from Queensland.
Fifita's mum Gwen is a powerful figure in negotiations and has told Broncos chief executive Paul White her son - off-contract at season's end - is going nowhere.
The Broncos, currently battling salary cap pressures, are so confident they are prepared to wait several months to free up funds to eventually secure the blockbusting 19-year-old to a deal that reflects his growing value in the code.
Brisbane were prepared to offer a monster five-year deal but with Sydney clubs going cold the Broncos could settle for a two-year package, with option clauses, worth around $750,000 a season.
A shorter-term deal would still keep Fifita at the Broncos until at least 2022, but gives the Broncos more cap flexibility as the 108kg back-rower enters the next phase of his highly promising NRL career.
Souths and the Bulldogs were regarded as Brisbane's primary threats but Bennett admits the signing of Jai Arrow and Latrell Mitchell has put the Broncos in the box seat to retain Fifita.
"We won't be signing David Fifita, we can't afford him," Bennett said.
"We've signed Jai Arrow and Latrell Mitchell, so we're happy with our roster.
"It's not often a player leaves Brisbane. The lifestyle is a big factor, especially for a local kid like Dave.
"The trouble can be the Sydney kids who go up to Brisbane because they aren't locals but with Fifita, he seems happy (at the Broncos), so we won't be chasing him."
While Fifita's Bali incident in November took a personal toll, the drama has played into the hands of the Broncos at the negotiating table.
Fifita and his mother were grateful for Brisbane hierarchy's support in securing his release from a Bali jail cell and that will not be forgotten when the Origin forward finalises his future in the coming weeks.
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has big plans for Fifita to be his forward spearhead on Brisbane's left edge and is confident he will not walk out on the club.
"We are very comfortable with the situation," Seibold said.
"Dave is in no rush and we are in no rush, but we want David to stay here and continue his career here.
"I love coaching him and have a really strong relationship with him.
"We are working very hard to keep him. There are strong relationships between us and Dave's family. We know where we are at with it. There's no pressure on the kid."