Maroons coach Kevin Walters has cautioned David Fifita to be careful what he wishes for this Christmas as the young Queensland State of Origin giant becomes the most sought-after free agent in the game in 2020.
Fifita is off contract with the Brisbane Broncos at the end of the 2020 season, and has been free to negotiate with rival clubs since November 1.
Despite his well-publicised misadventures in a Bali jail cell, Fifita has not been short of suitors, with a host of clubs lining up to offer a deal they hope will lure him away from the Broncos.
As the Broncos struggle with the prospect of keeping all their stars under a tight salary cap, Fifita stands to become one of the highest earners in the game when he signs his new deal, on the back of a breakout season in 2019.
But Walters has cautioned the 19-year-old to do what is best for his playing career, not just what is best for his wallet, when he decides where he will be playing for 2021 and beyond.
“I think it is important for Dave to remember that rewards come after success – not the other way around,” Walter said. “You don’t get rewarded and then get success in the normal pathways.
“But I know that Dave won’t lose sight of that. He is a great young kid, and he would be aware of all of this.
“It would be difficult I imagine to be 19 years of age and try to comprehend where he is at right now in the game.
“But I am sure he has some good people around him who will help him make some really smart decisions about his future, and it will all work itself out that way.”
Speculation is that Fifita is set to stay with Brisbane, partly out of feeling compelled to repay the club after Broncos officials helped get him out of trouble in Bali.
That is despite reports saying 12 rival clubs are interested in signing Fifita, with figures of up to $1 million a season being mentioned.
Walters said he can understand rival clubs’ attraction to Fifita, who captained the Junior Kangaroos in October and, still in his teens, is a long way from hitting his peak as a player.
“He has shown, particularly at the back end of the season, what he is capable of, and I think that is a very exciting prospect for all Queenslanders,” he said. “It is one of those things – we don’t know where the limit is for Dave.
“But right now he is playing some great footy, and I am looking forward to working with him again next year.
“It is up to Dave now, and the people around him, to make sure that he stays on his pathway and lives up to that incredible potential.”