Fifita to reject rugby switch, staying with NRL

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 13:30 24/02/2014
Andrew Fifita
Getty Images
POWERHOUSE: Andrew Fifita on a charge for the Sharks against the Roosters.

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Australian 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 eight 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 A$750,000 per season, Fifita would have had to pay out significantly more than A$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.

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"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."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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