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Out of favour Andrew Fifita unlikely to be recalled for State of Origin II

Unwanted: Andrew Fifita attempts to break a tackle in Origin III, 2013.

Unwanted: Andrew Fifita attempts to break a tackle in Origin III, 2013. Photo: Getty Images

Test prop Andrew Fifita is at long odds to win his place back in the NSW Origin squad for Origin II unless there is an injury, due to concerns over whether he will fit into the new Blues culture.

Fifita, who was a member of the Australian team which beat New Zealand in last November's World Cup final at Old Trafford, is hopeful of making his return from a three-week lay-off with an ankle injury for Cronulla in next Saturday night's match against St George Illawarra in a bid to prove his fitness for Origin.

However, Fairfax Media understands Fifita may not have even been in the team that triumphed 12-8 over Queensland in last Wednesday night's series opener at Suncorp Stadium if he had been available and he is likely to be chosen for Origin II only if there is an injury to frontrowers Aaron Woods and James Tamou.

After losing Tamou and Blake Ferguson for the second match of last year's Origin series due to separate alcohol-related incidents, Blues coach Laurie Daley is trying to change the culture within the NSW team and there are believed to be some concerns about what impact Fifita would have on that transition.

The 24-year-old former Wests Tigers forward enjoyed a meteoric rise last year to force his way into the NSW and Australian teams after an outstanding first season wtih Cronulla in which he won the Dally M award for the NRL's best frontrower and was the No.1 player of 2013 according to Sportsdata's contributor value ranking system.

Since returning from the World Cup, Fifita has failed to recapture the same form and has spent five weeks on the sideline due to a two-match ban for a grade-two shoulder charge on Gold Coast winger David Mead in the opening round of the season and the ankle injury he sustained against Parramatta two weeks ago.

He has also been the centre of a bitter contract dispute with Canterbury after believing he had agreed to a $3.2 million four-year deal to leave the Sharks that failed to come to fruition and was dropped by Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens for last month's trans-Tasman Test against the Kiwis at Allianz Stadium.

Had Fifita's form demanded his selection, there would be no doubts about him being picked for Origin II as the Blues attempt to end Queensland's run of eight consecutive Origin victories.

However, NSW officials were happy with the way the players chosen for the series opener responded to the attempt to change the culture within the team and the way they played last week in Brisbane.

Gold Coast backrower Greg Bird will come back into the team after serving a suspension for a lifting tackle but there is unlikely to be any other unforced changes to the team that played in Origin I.

It remains unclear which forward will make way for Bird, but one solution may be to move secondrower Beau Scott to right centre in place of the injured Josh Morris to mark Greg Inglis, with Will Hopoate, James McMannus, Josh Mansour, Jorge Taufua or Josh Dugan to replace the injured Brett Morris on the wing.

The Morris twins have been ruled out of the remaining two games of the series on June 18 and July 9 due to shoulder (Brett) and knee (Josh) injuries, leaving Daley to find a new right-side centre/wing combination.

The most obvious option would be to move Jarrod Hayne to the right centre position he played for Australia in the World Cup but it is widely regarded as a gamble to move the Parramatta superstar from his usual fullback position after a man-of-the- match performance in the series opener.

Scott played centre for NSW in the second and third games of the 2010 Origin series and has regularly switched between the position and second row during his 10-seasons with Cronulla, St George Illawarra and Newcastle.

After earning an Origin recall following Bird's suspension for the series opener, Scott defended inside Josh Morris and made two try-saving tackles, while the Morris twins also made one each.

9 comments so far

  • I don't see how being injured, copping a suspension for a nothing incident (far less dangerous than Reynold's spear) and having a contractual dispute (where it is likely he was in the right) has anything to do with not fitting the new culture of the Blues...

    What a beat up. Andrew is a dedicated family man who has worked his bum off to become one of the best props in the game. He has been treated very unfairly by the media.

    Commenter
    Syd
    Location
    Sydnaaaay
    Date and time
    June 01, 2014, 11:42PM
    • It's ridiculous not to pick Fifita, he is one of the few NSW players who are better than what Qld have. Pick your best players Laurie, there's a series to be won.

      Commenter
      craig
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      June 02, 2014, 10:34AM
    • You obviously haven't heard the rumours surrounding Fifita and his attitude. Whilst I don't pretend to know the bloke, unlike you, there seems to be some truth in them otherwise why would they leave him out. It has nothing to do with suspension and his contractual dispute. Remember he was also left out of the Australian side.

      Commenter
      Mitch
      Location
      Muswellbrook
      Date and time
      June 02, 2014, 12:19PM
  • Beau Scott shouldn't be selected in the centres. He's a great defender who is well suited to the second row, or the bench, but it would be a mistake to select him in the centres because there's no points in him, and worse than that, he stifles point scoring opportunities for those around him.

    Dugan would be a better outside centre, with Tafua on the wing.

    Commenter
    Roger
    Location
    Surry Hills
    Date and time
    June 02, 2014, 7:41AM
    • Fully support Roger's comments - Beau Scott proved last Wednesday night that right side second row is now his place in ANY team. Yes he did play right centre for both Dragons and NSW but that was 4 years ago. He no longer has the real speed necessary to play in the centers and his defence efforts more than made up for any drop in speed. Dugan would be a better option if Daley needs to "manufacture" a center if there are no real stand-out contenders.

      Commenter
      saint mike II
      Location
      Kiama Downs
      Date and time
      June 02, 2014, 9:05AM
    • Plead with Jamie Lyon. Come on Killer - once more for old time's sake!!

      Commenter
      PC72
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 02, 2014, 10:29AM
    • The only three long breaks that Qld made last week were all through Scott when he defended one inside from the right centre. He will get smoked if he plays centre, with even more space they will run around him no problem. When picked to mark Inglis in Origin a few years ago Inglis was way too good for him and it will be worse now that he is into his 30's and even slower.

      Commenter
      craig
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      June 02, 2014, 10:32AM
  • Fifita has not played well this year. I think the injuries, the long year last year with the world cup and the contract issues have played their part. He is back to his old habits of giving away too many penalties (laying on tacked player or hands on the ball) and dropping the ball in hit ups/playing the ball. His style of play is a double edged sword - his size, speed and quick play the ball can be a huge benefit, but when he makes too many errors it becomes a liability. As a sharks fan this year the balance has been too much in the negative category - but he is very capable of getting some consistent footy under his belt and getting back to his best.

    NSW need to complete sets and not give QLD opportunities, and in my view as much as Fifita could be a game breaker, he needs a few games under his belt to prove his head is in the right place before risking him at Origin.

    Commenter
    Chris
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    June 02, 2014, 11:14AM
    • I'm looks like Andrew has read to many wright ups about himself. It looks like he going to be like Barba . One year wonder.

      Commenter
      Rocket
      Date and time
      June 02, 2014, 12:28PM

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