David Fifita and Anthony Seibold at training earlier this year. Picture: Annette Dew
David Fifita and Anthony Seibold at training earlier this year. Picture: Annette Dew

Seibold breaks silence on rumoured Fifita rift

Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has broken his silence on David Fifita's bombshell departure to the Titans, insisting there was no dressing-room rift with Gold Coast's new $3.5 million man.

In his first interview on Fifita's decision to quit the Broncos at season's end, Seibold addressed rumours the Queensland Origin star walked away amid concerns over the club's direction under the besieged Brisbane coach.

Seibold has consistently maintained over the past six months he was confident of keeping Fifita and as late as last Thursday, Brisbane hierarchy believed the superstar back-rower would remain loyal.

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David Fifita and Anthony Seibold at training earlier this year. Picture: Annette Dew
David Fifita and Anthony Seibold at training earlier this year. Picture: Annette Dew

Fifita's decision to accept a three-year, $3.5 million deal with the Titans had multifaceted reasons beyond money, with the 20-year-old said to be concerned over player unrest and his own development under Seibold.

Seibold said he is bitterly disappointed to lose Fifita but is adamant his coach-player rapport with Brisbane's best back-row discovery in 20 years was not a factor in his Titans defection.

"All I want to say about Dave is that he made the decision that is best for him and his family," Seibold said ahead of Friday night's clash against the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium.

"I am disappointed to lose Dave because he is someone I feel I have a good relationship with.

"I never wanted to see him go.

"I don't want to go into too much detail about this but I'm very respectful of Dave and his family.

"We all know a lot of details around Dave's situation (with the Titans and Broncos tug of war) and the only thing I want Dave to do now is focus on this year and do his job for us.

"I am looking forward to what Dave can do for us before he leaves."

Fifita made his debut under former Broncos coach Wayne Bennett in 2018 and he kicked on last year, making his Queensland Origin debut in Seibold's maiden campaign at Red Hill.

But ructions appeared to surface earlier this season when Fifita picked up a knee injury in the season-opener against the Cowboys and was chosen to play the following week against Souths at Suncorp Stadium.

It is understood Fifita had some concerns about playing the Rabbitohs. He subsequently underwent knee surgery during the NRL's two-month COVID-19 hiatus, although he was hopeful of making his return this week against the Sharks.

 

Anthony Seibold has denied Fifita walked because of the direction of the club. Picture: Annette Dew
Anthony Seibold has denied Fifita walked because of the direction of the club. Picture: Annette Dew

 

But Fifita's planned comeback has been put on ice for another round, with Seibold planning to unleash the Titans-bound 107kg hulk against Bennett's Bunnies on Friday week.

"Dave has only done the one session with us (on Monday)," Seibold said.

"He needed to do more sessions considering we are going into a Friday game (against Cronulla), not a Sunday game.

"Monday was the first field session he had done before round two.

"Dave will train on Wednesday and he will be available to play against the Bunnies next week."

Broncos board member Darren Lockyer backed Seibold's view that Brisbane did everything possible to keep Fifita.

"It was a rollercoaster ride and with the dollars on offer, it's life-changing for him and his family," Lockyer said.

 

David Fifita is set to return against Souths. Picture: Annette Dew
David Fifita is set to return against Souths. Picture: Annette Dew

 

"From his perspective, that sort of money may never be on the table again. We aren't shocked because we have been in negotiations for nearly a year, so the longer it dragged on, you thought it was more a reality that he was going to go.

"The Titans have looked at their cap and their roster and feel they need to add someone to bring some impact to their team on and off the field.

"It's the Titans' decision. A lot of people externally may say it's too much money but until you sit in on the meetings with the guys making decisions, you don't understand what's at play."

 

Originally published as Seibold breaks silence on rumoured Fifita rift


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