The Sharks kept their top four dreams alive on Saturday night by defeating the determined Cowboys. As usual the rugby league media has chosen to focus on a controversial moment rather than the amazing post match presentation or you know, the match-winning break by Matt Moylan.
For those unaware of what I’m referring to, Andrew Fifita scored a 68th minute try to put his side into the lead. It was a huge run that saw the big front rower slam the ball into the turf in scenes that looked familiar to those fans lucky enough to witness the 2016 Grand Final.
Fifita stood up and pointed aggressively into the stands and delivered a serve.
At the time, from the grand stands, it looked as though he was pointing at a fan or possibly to family. At the time we couldn’t see the aggression behind the celebration. It was ten below zero and the Sharks rightfully mobbed Fifita for turning the momentum toward the home side.
It has come out that Fifita was reacting to a spray from either Sharks coach Shane Flanagan or assistant Jim Dymock.
Fifita, known for playing big minutes for his position and size, was hooked early in the game and didn’t return until late on.
The general feeling is that he took exception to being dragged off and told his efforts were less than acceptable.
I just want to say straight up that I won’t be encouraging my son to point and yell in the direction of his coach is he scores a try on the weekend, but calls for Fifita to be dropped are laughable.
Was it disrespectful? Absolutely. Was I proud to see the replay? Not really.
BUT WHO CARES!?
I can’t imagine Flanagan or Dymock would have been thrilled with their star front rower’s language but I can guarantee they were happy with his reaction to copping a serve.
Having been at the game on Saturday evening, Fifita probably deserved to be dragged. The Cowboys, under manned with the withdrawals of Taumalolo and Scott, were bending the Sharks line with almost every hit up.
Fifita wasn’t the only one to blame, but as the highest paid member of the pack, and arguably the side’s most influential big man, he probably deserved to ride the pine.
Only when Aaron Woods came on were the Sharks able to take any sort of control of the ruck.
Fast forward until halfway through the second half and Fifita was almost literally breathing fire. He was running from the back fence with every effort and it wouldnt matter if all 13 Cowboys had been in that tackle, he was scoring that try.
But oh no, Fifita said some naughty words while the adrenaline ran through his body.
Fifita was called out, he responded and he returned serve.
Tell me you wouldn’t want that kind of reaction from your biggest name forward and I’ll ask you to look in the mirror to see a liar.
Fifita should absolutely say sorry to Flanagan for the show of disrespect, but Flanagan should pat his big man on the shoulder and tell him to bottle that emotion and to rip into the Knights this Sunday.
The Sharks can’t win the title without Fifita at his most fierce. If it takes a rocket every week to motivate him into that kind of reaction then so be it.
In fact, Andrew if you’re reading this, you’re not pulling your weight, earning your money etc etc etc.
I’ll be sitting in the stands if you want to give me a spray on Grand Final after scoring yet another Grand Final winning try.
I’m sure Flanagan will be feeling the exact same way. It’s better to cop a point and a few naughty words than to have lost to the Cowboys and be facing a horror run in the finals.
If Fifita doesn’t score that try on Saturday night then who knows what happens. The Cowboys had the momentum. Fifita scored out of nowhere, there wasn’t a whole lot on to be truthful.
As a Sharks fan I couldn’t care less who Fifita was pointing to after scoring that try. I didn’t then and I still don’t now.
There will be the odd fan out there who claims his show of ‘disrespect’ for bad for the game but I guarantee you their tune would change if it were a prop from their side.
As an NRL coach you do whatever it takes to get the best out of your players. Fifita wasn’t playing to his best on Saturday night. He was dragged, copped a spray and responded how a multi-million dollar, international, Origin, Grand final winning prop should.