Titans hold Rabbitohs to ransom over Arrow
THE Gold Coast Titans will play hardball over the release of Rabbitohs-bound forward Jai Arrow, with coach Justin Holbrook declaring he won't give up the Queensland State of Origin star without the guarantee of a replacement player.
Arrow reported for training at the Titans this week after signing a four-year contract to join South Sydney from 2021.
The Titans released a statement on Monday claiming Arrow was committed to seeing out the final year of his contract at the Gold Coast this season.
However, The Courier-Mail understands moves are being made behind the scenes for Arrow to link with the Rabbitohs immediately.
The sticking point of situation is the Titans are reluctant to give up a player of Arrow's quality without having a replacement lined up.
The Rabbitohs are reportedly open to releasing Maroons back Dane Gagai, but he is not a like-for-like replacement for Arrow.
Holbrook said the Titans could not afford to simply release Arrow.
"From our end, we've got Jai here for this year and we're not going to just let him go then we'd be (down a player)," he said.
"My plan and the club's plan is Jai's playing here in 2020.
"He's a great player, a committed type of player and we know he's an important part of our team. We're planning on having him for this year."
Gagai has been linked with a move to the Gold Coast following two seasons at South Sydney.
The Titans are also keen to prise 2021 signing Tino Fa'asuamaleaui away from Melbourne immediately.
But Holbrook said the Titans hadn't discussed any specific recruitment targets since Arrow informed them of his decision to quit the club pre-Christmas.
"We haven't had any specific player being mentioned to us," Holbrook said.
"There has been a lot of talk around it and that will continue over the next few weeks. I don't know if that will go away in the short term.
"We've got Jai here for this season and that's what I'm planning on.
"If anything happens elsewhere, I don't know that at this stage."
The Rabbitohs snared Arrow's signature with a $3.2 million contract that trumped the Titans' offer by more than $500,000.
Speaking for the first time since losing arguably his best player, Holbrook said he was comfortable with the Gold Coast's handling of the negotiations.
"He had a big decision to make and he's made that," he said.
"I'm one of many at the club who said we wanted him to stay.
"It was a hard decision for him. He's made the decision he thinks is best for himself.
"He's a really good guy. I'm disappointed he didn't stay, but we've got to move on. We'll be on the lookout for other players.
"He's committed here to playing in 2020 - that's how we'll be seeing it out. I see him being a big part of our season this year."