Andrew Fifita has been publically dropped from the Australian rugby league side and he absolutely deserves it. The 27-year old capped off an excellent, rampaging performance on Sunday night by scoring the premiership-winning try, which left many thinking he’d made his case for representative honours.
However, Fifita was ruled out of the Four Nations squad as part of the NRL’s new ‘no-dickheads’ policy when it comes to national selection. Chief Executive Officer, Todd Greenberg cited his well publicised off-field issues as the main reason behind the snub.
Need I remind you, the Sharks front-rower remains under investigation by the NRL Integrity Unit for his support of one-punch killer, Kieran Loveridge, after wearing an armband in support of the convicted violent offender who he has known since childhood.
While not exactly illegal, it showed extremely poor taste on Fifita’s behalf, when you consider what the victim’s family has been put through, and proved a public relations nightmare for the NRL. Despite a belated apology, his actions were a serious lapse in judgement.
In other words, what an imbecile. You’d expect much better from a professional athlete, but this wasn’t an isolated incident.
Along with his twin brother, the big prop was also suspended for six weeks and fined $30,000 last year for verbally abusing and threatening a junior rugby league referee. The 27-year old previously damaged a hotel room while on tour with the national team and was involved in a road rage altercation in 2014.
That’s hardly the character of a man you want representing Australia on the world stage. Fifita now holds the unwanted record of being the first player in 109 years to be banned from Kangaroos selection and will one day be the answer to a pub trivia question. He only has himself to blame.
While Metre-Eater is without a doubt one of the best forwards going around, you have to applaud the organisation’s stance. Much like AFL team, Sydney Swans’ zero tolerance for trouble-makers, the NRL has finally decided to draw a line in the sand.
Although it’s tough to swallow, on the face of it rugby league has more players than any other code that consistently bring the game into disrepute. Officials should use this as an opportunity to double-down on player misbehaviour and their new policy looks certain to filter back to State of Origin.
As for Fifita, well he needs to take a long hard look at himself. The Cronulla forward is fast becoming an embarrassment to the game and must clean up his act.
Written by Tim Alexander