Cronulla are resigned to almost certainly losing NSW prop Andrew Fifita to Canterbury next season, with the Test star set set to announce he’s signed a four-year deal worth $3 million with the Bulldogs from the start of the 2015 NRL season.
Fifita refused to discuss his future after the Sharks’ loss to the Gold Coast on Monday, but skipper Paul Gallen, who left the ground on crutches after suffering an ankle syndesmosis injury remained hopeful the club can make a late play to keep him.
“It’s up to him – it’s part of the game, it’s a business, you’ve got to look after your family,” Gallen said of Fifita, who’s expected to make an announcement on Tuesday.
“I don’t know if it’s for sure yet. I am sure the club will come very close to their offer, it won’t be chalk and cheese.
“It’s just going to be up to Andrew as to where he wants to play next year.”
Fifita arrived at the club in 2012 as talented but raw front-rower who was struggling to get in the Wests Tigers side and developed into one of the most talented and dangerous front-rowers in the game at the Sharks.
Gallen is hopeful Fifita will repay the loyalty the club have shown him since his arrival, but said he would be disappointed if he moved to Belmore next year.
“It’s a business, he’s got a young family and you have to look after yourself,” he said.
“I’d be upset of course if he left. We’ve put a lot of effort into him and he’s a great player who’s played his best football here.
“But in saying that, everyone thought the world was going to end when Luke Douglas and Kade Snowden left. But I wouldn’t say those boys have kicked on since they left here.
“We’ll just pick up some more front-rowers.”
Fifita could also find himself in hot water with the match review committee after being put on report for a shoulder charge on Gold Coast winger David Mead.
The Sharks were upset with the decision to penalise Fifita but not to send Mead to the sidelines for the now mandatory concussion checks.
“I was a bit confused, because they were going to let play go on but the bloke stayed down,” said five-eighth Wade Graham.
“Obviously they’ve checked upstairs and they’ve come back that there was contact with the head. I am not a doctor, but if you stay down then you are hurt.
“I am not too sure what the new five-point plan is, but over the weekend I saw a lot of blokes go off as a precaution.
“It’s common sense isn’t it?”