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Cronulla's Andrew Fifita likely to turn his back on rugby and stay in the NRL

Hot property: Cronulla's Andrew Fifita celebrates scoring a try against Wests Tigers in a trial at Remondis Stadium on Saturday night.

Hot property: Cronulla's Andrew Fifita celebrates scoring a try against Wests Tigers in a trial at Remondis Stadium on Saturday night. Photo: Getty Images

Test prop Andrew Fifita is set to remain in the NRL after resolving a management dispute that would have made it more financially appealing for him to switch codes.

Fifita was reluctant to sign with an NRL club while under contract to SFX's Daryl Mather until the end of 2014 as he would have had to give his manager and the company 8 per cent of any deal he signs this year.

With numerous NRL clubs, including Sydney Roosters, South Sydney and St George Illawarra, reportedly prepared to offer him four- or five-year deals worth up to $750,000 per season, Fifita would have had to pay out significantly more than $100,000 in management fees.

If he failed to do so, the NRL may have refused to register his new contract as it did with the four-year deal Issac Luke negotiated with South Sydney in 2011 until the Kiwi hooker paid compensation to his managers, Chris and Gavin Orr.

Fifita has been receiving financial advice from Greg Willett, the former manager of Braith Anasta and Craig Gower, who is no longer an accredited NRL agent.

Mather is a member of the Player Agent Accreditation Scheme and would have had its support to block any deal Fifita negotiated with an NRL club before the end of this year.

However, the Cronulla prop would not have had such problems if he had signed with the Australian Rugby Union and is understood to have seriously been considering that option as he was reluctant to wait until 2015 to resolve his future.

Willett, an accountant, also handles the financial affairs of Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie and he met Fifita informally before Christmas.

After starring for Cronulla in the Auckland Nines, the giant prop may have even interested the ARU as a possible target for the Australian Sevens team to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

Coincidentally, the Rabbitohs and Roosters view Fifita as a replacement for their star rugby union-bound forwards, Sam Burgess and Sonny Bill Williams.

Sharks officials insist they are confident of retaining Fifita but the Dragons are also believed to be keen on the 24-year-old, who broke into the NSW and Australian teams last season.

Fifita told reporters after Saturday night's 28-22 trial loss to Wests Tigers that he was waiting for Willett to receive details of the offers before deciding his future. "I've just changed managers so I will wait until he gets it all on paper," Fifita said. "I will have a look at them and do what is best for my family. The Sharks have been very good to me and made me into the person I am today.

"I arrived here at Cronulla as part of a package deal. I will always be thankful to the Sharks no matter what I decide because they got me to where I am today."

4 comments so far

  • Fifita has a rugby background, played it growing up, so knows rugby union well, was in the Brumbies junior development squad. He did win a RLWC last year, so maybe tempted by chance to win a RWC with Wallabies. RLWC win is cool, but what would you prefer playing in a winning state of origin side a series played between 2 states in OZ, or a chance to win a RWC, a much bigger event than Origin. Rugby league needs to step up the pace in makeing the World Club Challenge, and Test footy, a priority and the RWLC, as it has more international focus and larger TV deals, potential than SOO. The nines was a good expansion plan. So Fifita may go, as have SBW who is going back, and Folau, and Benji Marshall. Fifita won't make the sevens Olympic side unlikely, but could be tempted by rugby, as a RWC spot is a chance. And he's won a RLWC, money talks, if the NRL can get the right cash they may keep em. Folau was lost, when he could of stayed if the NRL spent the cash. NRL has a $1 billion dollar TV deal, use it to keep the star players.

    Commenter
    Ray
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    February 24, 2014, 1:44AM
    • Why is someone who is an agent also on the Player Agent Accreditation Scheme? The potential for this kind of power to misused against a rival agent or to coerce a player seems to be obvious. The governing body really needs to re-think this.

      Commenter
      YS
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 10:11AM
      • as long as state of origin is bigger than international games you will always see players leaving to be international union players its not rocket science think of all the english and kiwis who would love to be part of soo but cant because its 1 nation 2 states except for trators eg james tamou??? !good on them really playing nrl in australia doesnt get you on world stage you think how many countries are competitive at rugby compared to the 3 countries in league

        Commenter
        lukadog
        Date and time
        February 24, 2014, 4:53PM
        • Agreed. RL needs to have a broader vision for future growth. It needs to look far beyond SOO ....
          I can't stand it when people suggest other countries adopt a version of SOO.. What the rest of the RL community needs is a country of Origin.. as in more regular Internationals.
          People need to remember that SOO pre 1983 was on the chopping block as a non event (it was going to be axed) until someone tinkered with the rules. Similar attitude adjustment needs to occur with our approach to Internationals. That is RL's future..

          Commenter
          CJW
          Location
          Milton QLD
          Date and time
          February 25, 2014, 12:38PM

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