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Canterbury players fear a backlash from a Cronulla team that may be looking for retribution following Andrew Fifita’s decision to switch to the Bulldogs next year.
The Bulldogs camp is preparing to meet a fired-up Cronulla forward pack on Monday night after Fifita announced he would join Canterbury for the next four years after signing a rich, $800,000-a-season contract. A two-game suspension for a shoulder charge has robbed Fifita of the chance to confront his future teammates.
While Fifita and skipper Paul Gallen might be missing from a weakened Cronulla team – which is also minus Anthony Tupou, Jeff Robson, Luke Lewis and Siosaia Vave – Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds said he expected to face a confronting Cronulla forward pack.
“They are obviously going to fire up,” Reynolds said. “Obviously they’ve lost a major part of their pack. Some of them are going to have to step up a bit more. There will definitely be a bit of a backlash. I’m sure our forwards will have to try and contain them because they will have a point to prove.
“It’s not a bad thing for us with those two [Gallen and Fifita] metre eaters not playing.”
The Bulldogs already boast an international forward pack, Fifita joining the likes of James Graham, Sam Kasiano, Frank Pritchard and Tony Williams. Reynolds, who played alongside Fifita for NSW last year, said the front-rower would add an extra dimension to the side.
“He does things that forwards can’t do,” Reynolds said. “He’ll crab across the field and break the line and score a long-field try. It’s going to be another great injection. It’ll be great to have him here next year.
“He is a guy that likes to have a laugh and that’s why I think he’ll fit in really well.”
Former Cronulla winger Mitch Brown played at the Tigers with Fifita during his debut season in 2010. Brown said he saw glimpses of Fiftia’s destructive ability.
“I played with Andrew and [his twin] David,” Brown said. “They are very loud and feed off each other. They are very happy people.
“I played in games where [Andrew] single-handedly went through teams … He has always had it in him. It’s just more consistency and more minutes he is playing these days. He has always been a big talent.”
Some have questioned the timing of Fifita’s switch with almost a full season remaining on his Cronulla contract. An emotional Fifita told his Sharks teammates of his impending move following Monday’s round one loss to the Titans.
Reynolds said he preferred players to announce their defection later in the season.
“I think it’ll be a bit tough for the Sharks,” Reynolds said. “I don’t think it’ll happen with Andrew, but with players sometimes their minds might be elsewhere, thinking about the next year. I’m not too sure what the NRL are going to do about it, if they are going to stop it.
“I think (players) should announce it a bit later in the season.”
Article credit to The Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Michael Carayannis