Meninga won’t let Arrow leave
TITANS culture chief Mal Meninga has slammed the door on Jai Arrow being granted an immediate release amid speculation the Queensland ace has not given up hope of joining South Sydney this season.
Meninga says any Souths attempt to offload players to accommodate Arrow under the salary-cap this season will be futile, insisting the Redfern-bound Origin forward will honour the final year of his Titans deal.
And Meninga also lashed suggestions the Titans botched the retention of the man touted as a future club captain, claiming the Gold Coast tabled a palatable offer that reflected Arrow's status in the code.
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Arrow's management has reportedly spoken to Gold Coast hierarchy over summer about the prospect of an early release following the 24-year-old's decision to sign a four-year deal with Souths.
An affable character who is reluctant to rock the boat politically, Arrow is staying at arm's length by leaving the matter to his management firm, who have tried to broker a swift transfer to the Rabbitohs.
But Meninga is adamant Arrow will see out the 2020 season in Titans colours after a season-ending knee injury to skipper Ryan James weakened Gold Coast's forward stocks.
"Jai is staying here," Meninga said.
"We've lost Ryan James for the year which is a terrible blow for the club and for the team and Ryan personally.
"We are down on middle forwards and Jai commands that position.
"We can't afford to let Jai go now so it won't be happening."
Meninga also defended the club's failure to retain Arrow, whose status as a Gold Coast junior cuts to the core of the Titans' ethos as a community club representing the local area.
It is understood the Titans' offer to Arrow averaged out at $675,000 over a four-year term. That was well adrift of the $800,000-plus South Sydney package that proved too irresistible to refuse for the former Bronco.
Meninga is standing firm in his belief the Titans did everything possible to retain Arrow.
"That's outside opinions if people want to think that (the Titans botched the deal)," he said.
"We know internally what happened.
"It was difficult losing Jai. It was hard for Jai, too, but unfortunately we got into a situation where we couldn't afford it. It is what it is. Jai has got a family now and has made decisions based on his future and I wish him all the best.
"We have to be prudent with contracts. We just couldn't match what Souths offered.
"We couldn't afford to pay overs and then you are caught paying unders for someone else or you can't be in the market for other players.
"We have to make some tough decisions under the salary cap on what we will pay for players. There's a lot of indicators and sometimes we have to make a tough call.
"Knowing Jai and his commitment to the club, I'm confident we will get a strong 12 months out of him before he moves on."