NRL to launch Titans salary cap investigation over David Fifita incident

NRL to launch Titans salary cap investigation over David Fifita incident

The NRL is probing David Fifita’s bizarre Christmas incident further after being made aware of a potential compensation payout from the Titans.

Travis MeynTravis Meyn and Peter Badel

February 23, 2021 - 5:05PM

News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom
DAILYTELEGRAPH.COM.AU1:09

Broncos star David Fifita reaches “peace agreement” with Bali bouncer

Rising NRL star David Fifita reached a “peace agreement” with the Bali bouncer he allegedly assaulted outside a Seminyak nightclub.

The NRL has launched a salary cap investigation into the Gold Coast Titans amid revelations of a cover-up involving $3.5 million recruit David Fifita.

News Corp can reveal the NRL was unaware a payment had been made to the family involved in Fifita’s bizarre incident during the Christmas break.

Fifita was arrested after allegedly trespassing at a Gold Coast property in December but was later released without charge.

While the NRL Integrity Unit’s investigation has not formally concluded, it was believed Fifita would escape sanction over the incident given he was not charged by police.

However the NRL is now probing further after being made aware of a potential compensation payout.

NRL chief Andrew Abdo confirmed the league had not been told about the payment and an investigation was underway.

David Fifita at Titans training. Picture: Jason O’Brien

“This is live at the moment,” he said.

“It is fair to say that we obviously weren’t given all the information by the club in the first instance which we are going to deal with. There is an investigation going on.

“The Fifita case was not totally closed by us. We have been waiting on some information from the Titans and haven’t had a response, so now we will make sure we get it.

“Our integrity guys are talking with the Titans about it. We need to find out who has made some payments, for what purpose and how much was it.”

Titans CEO Steve Mitchell could not be reached for comment.

The NRL’s investigation will look into whether the money was paid by Fifita or the Titans given there are potential salary cap implications if the club has made the payment.

If the payment is deemed salary cap compliant, Fifita’s actions are still expected to be re-examined as the NRL investigates what transpired to prompt compensation.

David Fifita is arguably the biggest signing in Titans history. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

Fifita was arrested by police about 8am on December 27, following reports of trespassing at an address in Clear Island Waters on the Gold Coast.

He was questioned at Broadbeach police station and released without charge. Fifita was later issued an adult police caution.

The NRL’s Integrity Unit made inquiries but no formal sanctions were announced and the incident was put down to being a mix-up, with reports suggesting Fifita had entered the wrong room of an address he had been invited to.

However revelations a payment was made have raised further questions about what actually transpired.

On a club record three-year deal, Fifita will pocket $1.25 million this season and is arguably the biggest signing in Titans history, rivalling the failed acquisition of Jarryd Hayne from the NFL in 2016.

Fifita, who turns 21 on Thursday, is scheduled to make his first playing appearance in Titans colours on Saturday night in Lismore when Gold Coast faces New Zealand in a trial match.

He featured for the Indigenous All Stars in last Friday’s game against the Maori All Stars in Townsville, but is yet to play for the Titans.

David Fifita at Brisbane International Airport after arriving home from Bali in 2019.

David Fifita at Brisbane International Airport after arriving home from Bali in 2019.

The NRL’s fresh investigation around their star recruit will be an unwanted distraction for the Titans only two weeks before the 2021 season kicks off.

It is not the first time Fifita has been involved in an incident where money has been exchanged.

In November 2019, while contracted to the Broncos, Fifita was detained in a Bali jail for three days following an incident with a nightclub security guard.

A Broncos employee flew to the Indonesian island immediately to help broker Fifita’s release, which only occurred after a “peace agreement” was reached.

Fifita is believed to have paid $30,000 to secure his release from the jail.

The NRL was made aware of the Bali payment which was paid for by Fifita. There were no salary cap implications due to the transparency.

Fifita was released from the jail after the agreement was finalised and his camp has consistently maintained he was the victim of an extortion plot due to his status as an NRL rising star.

Fifita became the first player born this century to play in the NRL when he made his debut for the Broncos in 2018, playing 11 games in his rookie season.

He played three State of Origin games for Queensland in 2019 but missed last year’s series after undergoing knee surgery following an injury-plagued final season at the Broncos.

In early January, Titans coach Justin Holbrook spoke to media and claimed the Fifita trespassing issue had been “resolved” but would not comment on whether the club imposed any sanctions on their highest-paid player.

David Fifita made his State of Origin debut for Queensland in 2019.

“Yeah, I did (speak to him). It’s not good but it’s been resolved now,” he said.

“We’ve got to move on now.”

Fifita made a dramatic shift from the Broncos to Titans in the off-season following an ugly contract spat with Brisbane.

He has only faced the media once since joining the Titans, when he was unveiled in Gold Coast colours last November.

“It feels great to be a Titan,” Fifita said at the time.

“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.

It now remains unclear whether he will be allowed to play in Round 1 given the NRL’s hard-line stance on player behaviour.

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Gold Coast Titans made $10,000 payment following David Fifita’s trespassing incident

The Gold Coast Titans made a $10,000 payment following David Fifita’s trespassing saga. FIND OUT WHAT THEY PAID FOR

Travis Meyn and Peter Badel

less than 2 min read

February 24, 2021 - 6:14PM

News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom

NRL: Star Titans recruit David Fifita is hopeful Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith will join Gold Coast.

The Gold Coast Titans paid for a $10,000 security system to be installed at the property star signing David Fifita was chased out of.

Following a News Corp investigation, the Titans have disclosed details to the NRL about the payment made to the family involved in Fifita’s bizarre trespassing saga during the Christmas break.

League sources confirmed the payout was in relation to the installation of a security gate and cameras at the property.

Fifita, who turns 21 on Thursday, was arrested after being found inside a Gold Coast property on December 27, but was later released without charge and issued a caution by police.

Despite the incident occurring nearly two months ago, the NRL insisted its investigation wasn’t formally completed and on Tuesday requested further information from the Titans.

David Fifita is the Gold Coast Titans’ star signing for 2021. Pic: NIGEL HALLETT

Fifita and the Titans were expected to escape sanctions until the NRL was made aware of the payment, which is now set to be included in the Gold Coast’s salary cap.

The Titans reserved $600,000 in their 2021 salary cap in the hope Cameron Smith would opt to continue his NRL career with the Gold Coast.

That will ensure the Titans remain compliant with the Fifita pay-off included in their salary cap, but doesn’t change the fact the club did not inform the NRL of the agreement.

On top of the salary cap inclusion, the Titans are expected to be fined by the NRL for not disclosing the payment to the league.
The Integrity Unit must also decide whether to formally interview Fifita and the Titans again given the new information which has been uncovered.

Fifita played his first game of the year for the Indigenous All Stars last weekend. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

With Fifita escaping police charges, the issue was expected to be resolved without any sanctions.

However the revelations of a secret payment have raised questions about what actually transpired during the incident to prompt compensation.

The NRL is hoping to finalise the matter within a week given the 2021 season officially kicks off in a fortnight and player behaviour issues have once again marred the off-season.

Fifita has been named to make his first appearance in Titans colours in Saturday night’s trial game against New Zealand at Lismore.

The Titans will be desperate to have Fifita cleared and available for the start of the season, which includes a Round 2 grudge match against former club Brisbane at a packed Cbus Super Stadium.