Brisbane director Darren Lockyer insists money was the main reason the Broncos lost David Fifita and that his exit to Gold Coast is not a result of wider issues.
Lockyer labelled the loss of Fifita as “disappointing” on Sunday, with 20-year-old’s decision a massive blow given the Broncos have put youth first in their recruitment.
Brisbane are reeling in 14th place after just one win in nine games since the competition’s restart.
Fifita’s decision to sign with the Titans has prompted widespread criticism from former Broncos players.
Michael Ennis on Saturday night claimed it showed a lack of stability at the club, while Jharal Yow Yeh labelled it “bullshit” they were losing players like Fifita.
But Lockyer said that after a year of negotiations, there was nothing Brisbane could do in response to the Titans’ reported three-year $3.75 million offer.
“It’s disappointing for the club,” he said on Nine Network’s Sunday Footy Show.
“It’s been a tough decision for him. Obviously the Titans deal is quite significantly more in terms of dollars.
“He is a talent and a young player we would have liked to have kept but it’s not to be.
“It’s disappointing but we gave our best offer based on what our salary cap looks like and where we want to go as a club.
“We did all we could but unfortunately it wasn’t good enough.”
Pressed on claims that Fifita did not want to play under coach Anthony Seibold, Lockyer said: “I haven’t heard that, I don’t know where that has come from.”
Fifita’s exit at the end of the season is all the more painful for Brisbane given the Queensland State of Origin player is the best of the Broncos’ young talent.
In the past two seasons Brisbane have let several experienced players go, including Josh McGuire and Andrew McCullough while Sam Thaiday has retired from their pack.
They have debuted 12 players in the past season and a half, despite long insisting they are not in the middle of a rebuild.
Lockyer conceded Brisbane were playing with a lack of belief, improving in Friday’s loss to Melbourne but still losing 46-8.
“When they get a couple of things go against them … They’re not able to recover from those setbacks,” the Broncos legend said.
“The body language goes down and they start to think here we go again.
“Until they start to overcome those setbacks in a game and they win a game from that, there is the element of a lack of belief there.”