Titans prepare record deal to keep Arrow
Jai Arrow says his preference is to stay at the Titans as culture chief Mal Meninga prepares to table a club record $4 million deal to keep the Queensland Origin ironman on the Gold Coast.
The Courier-Mail can reveal the Titans are putting together the biggest contract package in the club's 12-year history to stave off a poaching threat for one of the NRL's most inspirational young forwards.
And Arrow last night uttered the words every Gold Coast fan wanted to hear, insisting he will not walk out on the Titans if the club can table a competitive deal.
"My preference is to stay," Arrow said.
"To be honest, I love the Titans as a club and on paper our team can be anything.
"We have some individual superstars and while we aren't clicking as a team at the moment, I'm confident we can build something special in the future and I hope to be a part of that."
With the Titans in desperate need of a feel-good story following the sacking of coach Garth Brennan, Meninga is moving proactively to retain the Queensland Origin star on a long-term deal.
Titans powerbrokers have started talks on a mega five-year extension to keep Arrow on the glitter strip until the end of 2025.
Arrow is already contracted until the end of 2020, but Meninga wants the 24-year-old to remain a Titan for life with a view to the Maroons tackling machine one day becoming a Gold Coast captain.
It is understood the Titans are willing to pay at least $800,000 a season.
A five-year package worth $4 million officially trumps the three-year, $3 million arrangement handed to halfback Ash Taylor in 2017.
Eight NRL rivals have expressed interest in Arrow, including the Eels, Tigers, Bulldogs, Sharks and Dragons, but it will take a $1 million-plus offer for Sydney clubs to have any hope of luring the Origin ace away from Queensland.
Potential suitors can begin formal talks with Arrow from November 1 this year. By then, the Titans plan to have Arrow locked in and off the open market.
"The fact is I'm happy at the club and I'm happy on the Gold Coast," Arrow said.
"My manager has called me and told me we've started talks with the Titans.
"I'm trying not to get caught up in all the contract stuff. I have a manager and that's why I pay him - to sort out my future and negotiate the best deal possible."
Arrow, who has played 57 NRL games, has not forgotten the Titans' role in turning him into an Origin player.
The Junior Kangaroo was a fringe first-grader at the Broncos, playing 24 games in two seasons before his move to the Gold Coast last year to clinch a regular starting spot.
In a further boost for the Titans, Arrow is hoping to return from ankle surgery in the next fortnight, possibly in time for the Gold Coast's clash against the Broncos on Saturday week.
"My rehab has come along really well," he said.
"My season isn't over. I'm looking at around round 19 (for a comeback), so I'll get the next five or six games in which I am happy with.
"Initially, I thought I would be done for the season but I'd love to get a good month of footy and build some confidence leading in the 2020 season."