Fifita breaks silence on Broncos exit
David Fifita says he won't be brought down by fame, money and the pressure of expectation as Gold Coast's $3.5 million recruit pledged to bring premiership success to the Titans.
In his first interview since his bombshell decision in July to quit Brisbane, Fifita broke his silence on why he walked out on the Broncos to defect to a Titans team that has long lived in the shadow of the NRL's richest club.
The 20-year-old endured a nightmare 2020 campaign, undergoing knee and ankle operations and playing just nine games as the Broncos crashed to the first wooden-spoon in their decorated 32-year history.
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Now Fifita arrives at the Titans on the most lucrative deal in the club's history, with his $1.25 million contract next season making him the joint highest-paid player in the code with Queensland Origin skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.
Given his pay packet, the pressure on the back-row superstar to live up to his potential is enormous, but Fifita backed himself to thrive at the Gold Coast, motivated to deliver the first title in the Titans' 14-year history.
Fifita watched his good mate, fellow Titans recruit Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, win a premiership at the Storm this season and now the Queensland Origin hulks will join forces to make the Coast the NRL's kingpins.
"It feels great to be a Titan," Fifita said.
"There's no pressure. I am looking forward to the expectation.
"It's a new challenge, a new opportunity on the Coast, so all the money stuff, my mum looks after that so I don't have to worry about that.
"All I need to worry about is getting my body right and ripping in next year.
"It would mean everything to make (the Titans a force). That's the goal next year - top eight, top four.
"I know myself and the boys will train hard and I can't wait for round one.
"My ultimate goal is a premiership, 100 per cent. One of my mates Tino already has one, so that's what I want."
The Fifita contract bust-up at the Broncos was one of the most explosive episodes of the NRL season.
The month-long saga had more twists-and-turns than a circus contortionist.
Fifita originally verbally agreed to join the Titans, then reneged within 24 hours, then advised he wanted to stay at Brisbane, only to finally quit the Broncos and take a leap of faith on a three-year deal with the Gold Coast.
There were rumours he fell out with embattled Broncos coach Anthony Seibold, who resigned one month later. There were rumours he was filthy on the club for apparently leaking details of his contract to the media.
At the epicentre of the drama was an injured, at times confused 20-year-old grappling with the biggest contract decision of his career.
Souths coach Wayne Bennett, the man who graded Fifita at the Broncos, was so keen the Rabbitohs tabled a $5 million deal, but no amount of cash could convince the Maroons forward to live in Sydney.
Now that the dust has well and truly settled on the affair, Fifita has found peace and clarity, saying he harbours no bad blood with the Broncos and close Brisbane cohorts such as Payne Haas.
"It was hard to leave the Broncos," he said.
"They were a young crew, too, and some guys there will be mates for life.
"I was injured during that time, so I had the time for it all to sink in. I sat down and thought about what I needed to do.
"I had personal stuff going on and it impacted me a bit because I wish I was out there playing and I wish things weren't going the way they were at the Broncos.
"It was a hard decision to make but I love the Gold Coast lifestyle and the beach.
"I had an opportunity to go to Sydney but I didn't want to go to Sydney.
"This (the Gold Coast) is only one hour away from my house in Brisbane, it's what's best for myself and my family.
"I have to look after my family and also with football, seeing how well the Titans did at the back end of the season and the boys that are coming on board, we can do something special.
"I'm grateful and happy to be at the Titans now."
An ankle operation forced Fifita to withdraw from Queensland's epic Origin series victory, but he will report for Titans pre-season on Monday and insists he is in no doubt for the season-opener in 2021.
"It was a crap year for myself, but I can't wait to rip in next year," he said.
"My ankle and knee are going all right. It's going well with the physios looking after me, my rehab has gone really well and I start training on Monday.
"I watched Origin, I have some good mates in the team and I'm happy Queensland got the job done, I was really happy they won.
"I have to play my game and I know I have to get my body right and lose some weight.
"If I do that, the rest will look after itself."
Originally published as Fifita breaks silence on Broncos exit