Rugby League

Cronulla Sharks props Andrew and David Fifita urged to stop loitering at grounds

The Penrith Referees Association has urged the Fifita brothers to uphold the spirit of their 12-month bans, claiming abused officials can't move on while the twins are loitering outside their grounds.

Not welcome: Andrew and David Fifita.
Not welcome: Andrew and David Fifita. 

The Penrith and District Junior Rugby League claims Andrew and David Fifita turned up to watch a match in their region last weekend, but didn't technically breach their suspension because they didn't set foot onto the grounds.

Andrew has told Cronulla officials he wasn't present when the latest St Patrick's fixture took place, while David has admitted he was in the vicinity. However, PRA president Phil Haines, a former NRL whistleblower, is adamant he saw both siblings near Kings Way Oval last weekend.

"I was at the Kings Way on Sunday in a referee's capacity and I passed them in the area – the Fifita brothers with a bunch with their mates," said Haines, who officiated 100 first-grade games as a linesman and referee before a knee injury forced him to retire last year.

"Obviously they are very committed to the junior league and the St Pat's club. But in my mind, they should disappear from junior footy for 12 months as per their suspension and then everyone can move on with doing the right thing in junior league. If they keep hanging around, the fire is still burning. Where there's smoke, there's fire."


Haines said the victim of the Fifita abuse – 24-year-old referee Tim Hannon – was refereeing when he noticed them.

"The guys are over it and while this keeps coming they can't actually move on," Haines said. "The ref spoke to me at half-time and full-time about whether I noticed who was behind the fence and obviously we had a chat about it and I reassured them to go about their job.

"Because they are NRL players they probably should know better. But there's no doubt incidents like these turn people away from the game. It's even the potential referees. I've spoken to a number of people where their son or daughter is interested in being a referee but this incident, coupled with others, has turned them away."

The twins copped six-week NRL bans for an incident at an A-grade match in Sydney's west last month, with Andrew also receiving a $30,000 fine for referee abuse. The PDJRL also meted out 12-month bans of its own.

Cronulla gave an undertaking that part of the fine would go back to the affected parties and that formal apologies would be provided. However, Haines said neither were forthcoming.

"I've not spoken to the Cronulla club," he said. "I thought with the number of people employed at an NRL club they could pick up the phone and talk to a non-profit organisation like ours.

"I haven't heard from [CEO] Lyall Gorman and his team at Cronulla, I haven't had any discussions at all or received any apology from the club or players involved.

"I know they have had communication with the Junior League but specifically with me, there has been no communication."

Haines said the presence of the Fifitas near the grounds during their ban was proof they didn't take it seriously.

"It's not just about them not coming to football any more, it sends a strong message we are trying to stamp this behaviour out," he said.

"But by them trying to bend the rules 24/7 or get around the rules, it detracts from the message."

The NRL is not investigating the incident, stating that it is a matter for the club. Attempts to contact Gorman were unsuccessful.

While Andrew Fifita isn't available for NRL selection until the finals, he has struggled to maintain a low profile during his sabbatical. The Test prop took the bizarre approach of disguising himself while sitting in the stands during Cronulla's loss to Melbourne at Remondis Stadium on Monday night, wearing an orange wig, beanie, glasses and what appeared to be white zinc. He then posted his antics on social media.