The Roar
The Roar


The Fifita flip: What happens now for reeling Roosters and their unexpected $3.4 million bounty?

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15th May, 2024
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Powerbrokers at the Sydney Roosters are scratching their heads at what could’ve been after David Fifita’s 80th minute contract bust – with the club now left to deal with a $3.4 million bounty and a disgruntled back-row.

On Wednesday morning the Sydney Roosters announced their withdrawal of Fifita’s offer – worth $850,000 a season over four years – and within moments the Titans confirmed the Maroon signed back on with them until 2026.

Left in the wake of the collapsed deal is a fractured relationship between Roosters and Angus Crichton, who was left in the dark during the whole affair.

Trent Robinson was asked last week if Fifita’s expected arrival made it more difficult to retain Crichton.

“I’m not naive to think that it doesn’t,” he said.

“That’s the hard thing when you’re in a club and you walk in every day, it’s the balance between the players you have and then trying to get some guys that you think can change the way you play.”

David Fifita of the Titans offloads during the round 23 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Gold Coast Titans at WIN Stadium on August 21, 2022 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

David Fifita has offloaded his $3.3million contract with the Roosters to stay at the Gold Coast. (Photo by Getty Images)


As for the pencil pushers and club contract sweeteners, they will be bitterly disappointed by the recent news. What caused Fifita to back out of an imminent Roosters debut? Is the allure of the East not what it used to be?

At $850,000 a year, homesickness can’t be the reason behind the 24-year-old’s cold shoulder.

Roosters chairman Nick Politis was left baffled by the change of heart, after Fifita did the same thing to Penrith.

“It is hard to understand,” the powerbroker told the Daily Telegraph.

“He approached us. After coming Sydney to meet with Trent Robinson and the rest of the coaching staff, it’s hard to understand how he can display and create uncertainty.”

After forking out the cash for the brute No.11, the Roosters also told club second-rower Sitili Tupouniua that he could explore his options beyond this season.

Now, the tricolours must scramble to resign Crichton, who has been in career-best form over the past three weeks despite not knowing his future in Bondi.


The former Rabbitoh has been vocal over the past few days, assuring management he will not be the understudy of a player sourced elsewhere.

Power undoubtedly lies with Crichton’s agent, as the Roosters have shown over the week they are good for an extra buck.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Interest from Rugby Australia and French clubs has surrounded the schoolboy prodigy for the last few months.

Even though talk of Fifita and Crichton to partner on both edges was put forward, he will be looking for a deal worth around the new benchmark of the Titan’s proposed coin.

An uncomfortable dilemma now presents itself to Trent Robinson. Does he bump up the worth of his current No.11, or go for a new big name to fill the void of a fleeing group?

It would leave the Butcher brothers as the primary second-rower compounds, who are highly capable, but obviously lack something in the eyes of management, due to the nature and speed of Fifita’s contract.


Roosters chairman Nick Politis looks on during a Sydney Roosters media opportunity at Sydney Cricket Ground on September 27, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)Roosters chairman Nick Politis looks on during a Sydney Roosters media opportunity at Sydney Cricket Ground on September 27, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)[/caption]

In the coming weeks we may see a wild play by the Roosters to take on Kalyn Ponga, from a fullback and five-eighth standpoint. With James Tedesco still putting in a solid shift, Robinson may be working on a smart No.6 to No.1 switch over the course of a few seasons, to phase out the Blues captain while playing two gun backs in the same 17.

Given Ponga is on a salary cap wage of $1.4 million a season at Newcastle, some lucrative third-party deals would have to take place.


Seeing major partner Steggles have parted ways with the Chooks at the end of 2024, KFC could throw their hat in the ring – unlimited Zinger burgers for life? Maybe if the boxes were full of cash.

Daniel Tupou is also off-contract at the end of the season, yet the intent towards signing Dominic Young earlier this year shows he is on the outer.

Coach Robinson was also seen chatting to Tigers half Adam Doueihi weeks ago, who could fill the void of Keary come 2025.

Doueihi noted on NRL360 during Tuesday night’s edition, he would be fit for a return in a month’s time.

The 25-year-old has been tabled a new offer with Wests, reportedly well below his current deal – at a minimum wage rate around the $150,000.

Given the Roosters’ lack of halves depth post Keary, an offer slightly above that would seemingly interest the big-bodied No.6, while allowing the chooks breathing room to boost renewals and possibly another exterior signing.


Whatever plays on from here, the integrity of a contract in the NRL is forever dwindling. You can be in Bondi one day and Mermaid Beach the next.