Cronulla Sharks’ Andrew Fifita wishes he’d switched codes when had the chance like Valentine Holmes


“It is one of my childhood sports that I grew up playing. After 2013, I really wanted to go because I wanted to verse the All Blacks.

“You want to challenge yourself against the world’s best and that was them.

“It was on the cards. I had a massive contract from overseas. It was in New Zealand and I had to play for the All Blacks. It was the Hurricanes. It wasn’t in my heart. I’d rather be here.

“They knew I had a rugby background and they knew the way I played.

“They saw how Wycliff Palu played at No.8, I guess that’s my position, getting me out wide with some of the younger ones and trying to create offloads.

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“The thing for me was I wanted to be a Wallaby against the world’s best.

“There was a lot of teams [interested]. There were a lot of teams from overseas in England as well. England and France, they really came to play, especially after that [2013] World Cup.

“That is the toughest thing I had to deal with. The only reason I didn’t leave was I hadn’t won a premiership.

“After talking to Boyd Cordner on the World Cup tour, that was the main thing he said, ‘We won the World Cup, but you have to win a premiership, there is nothing better’.”

Fifita had the chance to join the Brumbies before he signed his first NRL deal with the Wests Tigers.

While Fifita brings plenty of size to the Sharks pack, Holmes is the fleet-footed back who will now get his chance to become the latest Australian to make it in the bright lights of America.

“At a young age he has accomplished so much … he has won a World Cup, played for his country, won Origin, won a comp, he’s pretty much done everything in the game possible,” Fifita said of his former premiership Cronulla teammate.

“Maybe he just wanted to reach for something else. He spent 12 weeks knuckling down [in the US], doing the hard yards. I can’t believe how far he has gone and how successful he is going to be. Hopefully he makes the 53-man squad. I can’t wait to see him blossom.

“How good would it be to see one of my brothers make it in the NFL?

“Even when [Jarryd Hayne] went over, I was that honoured and proud of him. At the start of this year I ended up messaging Haynesy again because I was watching his NFL highlights on YouTube. I said how proud I was of him. Haynesy is one that excelled and I have no doubt Val will do it.”

Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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