Rugby league legend Phil Gould has warned David Fifita not to have the lure of money sway him in his decision between the Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans.
Fifita’s future is one of the major storylines of this NRL season, with the 20-year-old still yet to officially decide where his playing future lies.
According to Nine’s NRL reporter Danny Weidler, after the Broncos were resigned to losing the Queensland Origin back-rower on Tuesday, their fortunes were improved with Fifita reportedly giving the club a verbal commitment on Wednesday morning.
With the Broncos yet to go on the record with the development, Gould revealed what his advice to the in-demand NRL star would be.
“There are short term and long term advantages to be considered,” he said in his Six Tackles With Gus podcast for Wide World of Sports.
“If I was advising a young man like David Fifita, at the very least of his consideration is the money on offer.
“The money on offer should not make a decision for him right at his age and this stage of his career. That, for me, is paramount.
“I’m a little taken aback by reports of the type of money. I tend not to deal in rumours and I don’t believe in all the reports I see, but that in itself can have a damaging aspect to a young player’s career as well. We’ve already seen that a number of times.
“There is still a long way to go in this young man’s career and his development and those around him need to make sure he is in the right environment to be the best 23-29 year-old footballer he can be.
“He needs to be relaxed and told that during the course of his career he’s going to earn more than enough money and we don’t have to get it all at once.”
Gould added that Fifita’s reported backflip is evidence that the decision on where he should play has become a major “source of exasperation” for the youngster.
The former NSW Origin coach is aware of the perils of giving a youngster like Fifita big money at such an early stage in his career, and admitted that figures like the reported five-year, $5 million offer from the Titans was not a good look for the NRL.
“It’s a longer discussion about the number of quality players we have available and the manner in which we negotiate contracts, and how easily players can be lured away from clubs with big-money offers, and whether or not that helps the game and helps the market for players in our game, and whether or not it helps the individual players as well,” he said.
“I think we can sit here and name half a dozen players who have been ruined by getting too much money too early in their career and I don’t know whether it helps the longevity of the player.”
Gould said that the Titans’ offer was a sign of an NRL club that is in desperation mode, and questioned whether a player like Fifita could change the fortunes of a perennial loser.
“That is the sign of the desperation from a club that’s struggling and looking for a quick-fix solution,” he said.
“It’s pressure on a young man like Fifita. The Titans are in a losing position and it’s putting pressure on everyone at that club. This is the way out of it, to throw some money at it and see if we can secure a big-name signature.
“Will David Fifita come along and change the Titans fortunes? He’s not a playmaker, he’s not a senior player, he’s not in a leadership role.
“He’s certainly a very talented footballer, but at this stage of his career he needs to be around quality senior players, quality playmakers, people that can enhance his game and develop his career for the longer term.
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“What happens too is, you go out and you pay a young player this sort of money, what they stop doing is they stop coaching him because they think if he’s getting a million dollars, he knows it all.
“All of a sudden, the results are on his shoulders, the performance of the team is on his shoulders and all of a sudden he’s expected to win games for them and put them into finals contention and (they’re) depending on the player and his maturity and his ability to influence results.
“It’s alright to come up with a 30 metre run and score a try, but that’s not actually influencing results or making the players around you better.
“If you’re spending a million dollars on a player, he’s got to be someone who’s regularly contributing to a 70 percent win strike ratio and he’s got to make players around him better.
“He’s got to make the $150,000 or $200,000 player far better than that and worth more money.
“This is not a good situation.
“I sincerely hope that those who are helping this young man with this decision are looking at a longer-term process and protecting what could be a stellar career from a highly-talented young man who can enjoy a great profile in our game for a long period of time.
“Let’s not have that destroyed by adding a heap of expectation and pressure on him at this stage of his career and solely pin the fortunes of a whole club on his shoulders as the be-all and end-all or the saviour of a situation that he didn’t create.”