Andrew Fifita of the Sharks celebrates following his team's win over the Storm in the NRL grand final.
Andrew Fifita of the Sharks celebrates following his team's win over the Storm in the NRL grand final. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Good riddance Andrew, our game doesn't need you

RUGBY LEAGUE: Although we are all entitled to an opinion, sometimes I wince when I read the sentiments of some of my fellow scribes these days.

I totally get it that tabloid-style journalism is seemingly now the norm and that a sensationalist headline sitting on top of a story that doesn't quite reflect the same sentiment is an accepted strategy. And I realise that some articles are written simply to offer an opposing opinion to what may be considered the norm.

But I don't agree with this philosophy, and I don't like it. And it irks me greatly that opinions on life fundamentals such as standards and ethics can be so diametrically opposed.

Following an NRL grand final that, as a contest, was among the top five I have witnessed, sadly the major topic of discussion in the sporting media last week was not the game or the miraculous rebirth of the Sharks, but a boofhead named Andrew Fifita.

And it wasn't about how well he played in the grand final either. Many of those headlines, and comments, centred largely on poor Andrew, and how badly done by he was.

To refresh memories or enlighten the non-NRL populous, Fifita was a controversial non-selection in the Kangaroos squad for their upcoming Four Nations tournament in Great Britain. And he was also - in the eyes of some - contentiously overlooked as winner of the Clive Churchill Medal for best on ground in the grand final.

Yes, on pure rugby league ability, Fifita was unlucky on both fronts. His late-season form for the Sharks was outstanding and he has certainly stamped himself among the best props in the game.

But thankfully Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga, his senior players and the NRL hierarchy have at long last invoked a "no dickhead" policy among their ranks. And as one of the game's gilt-edged boofheads, Fifita has paid a price.

His list of indiscretions is lengthy, but the one currently under investigation by the NRL integrity unit is for his support of convicted one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge.

Fifita has played part of season 2016 with the letters "FKL" on an armband, but claims they do not stand for what is widely believed to be "Free Kieran Loveridge", a childhood friend whom he regularly visits in jail.

And while he refuses to explain the meaning of the letters, he also says he has no regrets about them being displayed, despite the fact he was handed a consorting notice by New South Wales police.

From Fifita there has been an arrogant silence, and no sign of an apology to the game, to his club or to the parents of the young man killed by Loveridge.

But that isn't his only recent misdemeanour. Just 12 months ago he was suspended for six weeks and fined $30,000 for abusing and intimidating a junior match official.

And now, in further evidence of his "I have done nothing wrong" defiance, Fifita apparently wants to quit the game and has already asked for a release from the Sharks.

But I doubt too many genuine fans of the game will not bid him good riddance - besides, of course, the bleeding hearts brigade.



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