South Sydney have confirmed the signing of Queensland representative Jai Arrow on a four-year NRL deal starting in 2021.
The announcement seemingly ends Souths' hopes of acquiring the 24-year-old in time for the 2020 campaign, with Gold Coast unwilling to release their star forward.
"We made Jai our very best offer, because we wanted him to stay," Titans chief executive Steve Mitchell said in a statement.
"Ultimately, the decision to leave was made by Jai and his management, and while disappointed he will leave us at the end of the year, we respect the decision.
"Right now our focus is totally on the season ahead, and having Jai playing a significant role in a successful season for the Titans."
It's a huge coup for the Rabbitohs, who desperately need bulk in their forward pack to replace Sam and George Burgess.
However, it appears Wayne Bennett will have to wait a year before the arrival of Arrow to Redfern.
In a club statement Souths general manager Shane Richardson wished Arrow luck for the NRL season ahead with the Titans.
"He has worked with Wayne (Bennett) previously at the Broncos and he has developed into a State of Origin player, but we see him being able to push for further honours in the green and gold in coming years and we couldn't be happier that he will be pursuing those goals whilst playing his NRL football with Souths," he said.
Missing out on securing Arrow for this year opens the door for the Rabbitohs to pursue Roosters star Latrell Mitchell.
As the NRL premiers returned to pre-season training on Monday, the 22-year-old Kangaroos centre was granted a leave of absence from club duties with his future up in the air.
He appears set to leave the club with Souths the most likely destination.
Australian Associated Press