Cronulla Sharks icon Paul Gallen launched a passionate defense of struggling former teammate Andrew Fifita after being sent back to reserve for the NRL season opener.
Fifita showed up for the Newtown Jets this weekend, the nurturing side of the Sharks in the NSW Cup, marking a difficult stage in the career of the winner of the 2016 first PM.
The star striker has struggled in recent seasons to find his best football and has been slipped out of Cronulla’s first string team under John Morris.
Speak on Nine’s 100% Footy, Nine Rugby League chief reporter Danny Weidler reported that Fifita had seen himself away due to his defense efforts, but Gallen explained a much more detailed and difficult story set in the backstage.
WEIDLER: “Andrew has been a great player for the Sharks for a long time and has shown surprising restraint in not going after the coach (for playing in reserve). He trained really hard during the offseason he lost 17kg but I think the reason he doesn’t play in freshman was their defense. They could still score points. They obviously try to improve their defense and they think Andrew Fifita didn’t This is not helping their defense. “
GALLEN: “No, I don’t think that’s true at all.” He struggles with his knee. He struggles with his speed, his mobility. At his age, size, and the way the game plays out, he struggles with that mobility.
“He’ll be playing freshman again this season for sure. I have to say his attitude has been absolutely exceptional. For a guy who’s done what he’s got in the game, being sent back to the reserve level – he didn’t do it. to play the reserve category – but it turned out to be played. His leadership was exceptional. “
WEIDLER: “Word was he wasn’t even in the Sharks’ first two teams. That he was really away this offseason, wasn’t he?”
GALLEN: “Look, there’s no question he’s not in the top 17 right now. But I’m not going to say it’s because he can’t tackle or it’s because of his. defense.”
WEIDLER: “I’m not saying he can’t tackle himself, that’s the theory.
GALLEN: “Well that’s not correct. No. He’s struggling with his mobility, his knee is short, poor guy. He’s got two years left under contract, and fingers crossed, he can see them and play good. football.”