Roosters sign David Fifita in mammoth NRL recruitment coup as Panthers miss out

David Fifita is leaving the Titans to join the Roosters. Photo: NRL Photos.
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The Sydney Roosters have won the race for the prized signature of Gold Coast and Queensland forward David Fifita.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Fifita will join Trent Robinson’s team from next season.

The news is yet to be confirmed and there has been no statement from the Roosters.

The Panthers have narrowly missed out on signing the powerhouse forward after making a huge recruitment play for the 24-year-old.

David Fifita is heading to Bondi. Photo: NRL Photos.

Panthers CEO Matt Cameron was left anticipating a call from Fifita’s management for much of the week after the club finalised an offer last weekend. It followed a meeting between Fifita and Panthers coach Ivan Cleary.

Earlier today, Fifita informed the Titans that he would not be taking up an option to stay at the club next season.

Titans coach Des Hasler said it was disappointing to lose Fifita, but not unexpected.

“It’s part of the game, it’s part of the theatre,” he said.

“It’s part of the football merry-go-round. Players come and go and move from club to club all the time.

“David’s a wonderful player and he’s been a good acquisition for the club but he’s decided his time has come to an end and he’s going to move to Sydney and pursue his footy career and interests down there.

“It’s a decision that David’s made and we’ll accept that.”

David Fifita. Photo: NRL Images.

Fifita stormed into the rugby league world in 2018, making his debut for the Brisbane Broncos. He played Origin for Queensland just a year later.

The powerful second-rower joined the Titans in 2021, but it’s widely accepted in the game he hasn’t reached his full potential at the club.

Fifita has played more than 100 first grade games, and represented Queensland on eight occasions. He’s also played for Tonga and the Indigenous All Stars.

Another intriguing factor in the chase for Fifita was his partner, Shaylee Bent. The 23-year-old plays for the Titans in the NRLW, but is a Penrith junior and still has family in the area. Many believed it gave the Panthers the inside running.

Shaylee Bent. Photo: NRL Photos.

It is tipped that Bent will move to a Sydney club next year. She is off-contract at the end of the 2024 season.

Penrith’s 2025 plans were thrown a huge curve ball last month when three-time Premiership winner James Fisher-Harris asked for a release, which was subsequently granted on compassionate grounds.

It sparked Penrith’s first real look at the top end of the market in six years, and Fifita’s name popped.

It was known within the game that he had an odd clause in his Titans contract that essentially placed him on the open market.

Shaylee Bent and David Fifita in 2021, when Bent played for the Dragons in the NRLW. Photo: NRL Photos.

But the Panthers weren’t the only club circling.

Before Penrith’s approach, the Roosters had ear-marked Fifita has a potential target for their huge salary cap war chest.

It appears Robinson’s side has managed to repel Penrith’s offer and ensure he heads to Bondi next season.

It has been reported that co-captain Nathan Cleary even made a personal call to Fifita during the week as he was weighing up his decision.

It is believed Penrith offered Fifita a three-year deal worth $850,000 per season.

David Fifita proves a tough ask for the Penrith defence. Photo: NRL Photos.

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