The Gold Coast Titans have reportedly set their sights on Bulldogs centre Tim Lafai, following star James Roberts’ decision to find another NRL club.
The Dally M centre of the year knocked back a revised contract on Monday.
Roberts’ contract was declared void after it was discovered that former football manager Scott Clark, who has since resigned, had forged his signature on the paperwork.
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Roberts has now been linked with Brisbane as well as former clubs South Sydney and Penrith.
Lafai is being hunted by several clubs including Parramatta, St George Illawarra and Penrith, after being dropped by Canterbury to make room for Will Hopoate.
Peta Hiku, who’s been told he is unwanted at Manly, could also be targeted by the Titans. Parramatta have also expressed their interest in Hiku.
Titans chief executive Graham Annesley said the club was chasing several possible replacements for Roberts – within budget.
“We’re not prepared to pay overs, we will pay what we think is an appropriate price for players that we are interested in securing,” Annesley said.
Titans back-rower Greg Bird said he wished Roberts well but said he believed the forgery drama had been used as a convenient excuse to get out of his contract.
“I’m pretty sure (the forgery drama) had nothing to do with Jimmy wanting to leave,” Bird said. “If he wanted to leave, he would have got out whether he had those contract problems or not.”
Asked if he thought it was a convenient excuse, Bird said: “Yeah, I pretty much do. It was used as a scapegoat really.”
Bird described Roberts’ decision as disappointing after the Titans helped him get his career back on track. “We contributed to turning his career around, helping him out, pointing him in the right direction after getting him from being sacked from another club to where he is now after getting Dally M centre of the year,” he said. “The club’s done a good job with him and best of luck to him.”