Titans refuse to be fleeced as stars hit market
Mal Meninga has claimed the Titans won't be bullied into paying overs to keep rising duo Jai Arrow and AJ Brimson on the Gold Coast.
Arrow and Brimson have informed the Titans they will test their value on the open market from Friday when they officially become free agents for the 2021 NRL season.
The emerging stars are expected to attract plenty of interest from other clubs.
Arrow, 24, is already a Queensland State of Origin representative, having played four matches over the past two years, while Brimson has been earmarked for representative honours.
Both featured for the Kangaroos in the recent inaugural World Cup Nines in Sydney, having been selected by Australia coach Meninga.
Meninga, the Gold Coast's head of performance and culture, has been entrusted with helping shape the Titans' roster alongside incoming coach Justin Holbrook.
Arrow and Brimson, both off-contract at the end of the 2020 season, are viewed as integral parts of the Gold Coast's future after the club collected its second wooden spoon this year.
However the Titans are desperate to ensure they are not milked dry trying to keep them on the Gold Coast.
A series of poor recruitment and retention decisions over the past few years has left the Titans in a salary cap pickle with a roster featuring several overpaid and underperforming players.
The likes of Shannon Boyd, Nathan Peats and Jarrod Wallace are on contracts worth more than $600,000-a-season, while Penrith recruits Bryce Cartwright, Leilani Latu and Tyrone Peachey have flopped on deals worth more than $450,000 annually.
The Titans have earnt a reputation for signing lemons on overinflated deals, something Meninga is desperate to turn around.
"That's the balance - we've got to be careful with what we do," he said.
"We need to keep the right people for the right reasons and make sure they're the right deals for us.
"We don't want to get ourselves in a pickle like we have in recent times."
Arrow is expected to field offers in excess of $800,000 a season while a sticking point in negotiations with Brimson could revolve around his preferred playing position.
The 21-year-old came into the NRL at five-eighth but seems best suited to fullback, a position he was expected to step into following the retirement of Michael "Flash'' Gordon this year.
Meninga has hinted Brimson's best value could come as an interchange utility, however players are reluctant to settle for bench spots.
Meninga said the Titans would do all they could to retain Arrow and Brimson.
"Jai and AJ (are a priority), absolutely," he said. "We're constantly talking to their managers, but we're giving them some downtime as well.
"They have already indicated they want to go to market.
"We're in no rush, they're still with us next year, but we'll do everything we possibly can to keep them.
"I've promised them that.''