The Sydney Daily Telegraph is reporting that Cronulla Shark prop Andrew Fifita met with Australian Rugby Union coach Ewen McKenzie and discussed the possibility of playing Rugby Union when his NRL contract expires in 2015.
The meeting included former Rugby Union player Craig Gower and Fifita’s new manager Greg Willett.
A switch to Rugby Union would be a huge shock and a brave move for Fifita to make. While Fifita does have experience in Rugby Union as a junior player, 2013 was a breakout year for his Rugby League career. It was a season in which Fifita went from being a bench player for the Cronulla Sharks to representing NSW and Australia, eventually being a member of the Kangaroo’s World Cup winning squad.
Fifita is sure to attract big interest across the NRL in 2014, something that will push his asking price up and make it difficult for the embattled Sharks to hold onto him beyond next season.
While the ARU is cutting back player salaries as it looks to turn around yearly losses of over $10 million per year, there is little doubt they would find the money for Fifita if he had his heart set on a code switch.
The Cronulla Sharks will be desperate to hold onto Fifita. A number of their forwards are getting towards the end of their careers and Fifita would be a handy player to build their forward pack around.
When you consider that the ASADA scandal and likely bans are sure to play on the mind of any off contract player that may look to sign with the Sharks, it’s imperative the club does everything it can to hold onto the quality players it has already got.
What ever the case, this is the last thing the Sharks and their supporter base wants to be dealing with right now.
I personally can not see Fifita switching to Rugby Union. I think it is too much of a risk. He is sure to command decent offers from NRL clubs and when you factor in representative payments for playing State Of Origin games and test matches, he may actually need to take less money to switch codes.