Cronulla playmaker Todd Carney says it’s stupid to suggest Andrew Fifita should be dropped like hooker Michael Lichaa because he’s leaving the NRL club.
Lichaa, who came off the bench to make his Sharks debut against Canterbury on Monday, announced this week he’ll move to Canterbury in 2015 and was subsequently dumped to reserve grade by coach Peter Sharp.
Lichaa is rated one of the best young players in the game, but Sharp decided it was not in the club’s interest to fast-track his development for the benefit of another team and recalled experienced Isaac De Gois.
Fifita, who serves the second game of a two-match suspension when the Sharks play St George Illawarra on Saturday, has also agreed to join the Bulldogs next year, but Carney says their cases shouldn’t be compared when it comes to team selection.
“Andrew has played for Australia, won a World Cup, played Origin, he’s proved himself as a first-grader over the last few years,” Carney said on Friday.
“Michael’s new into first grade and he’s going to get his chance. It’s stupid for people to say the club should drop Andrew.”
“I’ve spoke to Michael and he’s sweet.”
Carney makes his long-awaited return from a hamstring injury against the Dragons and vowed to turn around Cronulla’s poor form.
The Sharks have been without a raft of top-line players for the opening two rounds, copping defeats to the Gold Coast and Canterbury.
Skipper Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis and Anthony Tupou and Jeff Robson and Beau Ryan all remain sidelined through injury, so the return of Carney is a much-needed one.
“I’ve done everything for the last week-and-a-half now and the body is feeling good and I’m ready to go,” he said.
“I hopefully can bring a bit of direction and get my hands on the ball. A local derby is always a bit of a bash-fest so as long as we can kick and complete our sets we’ll be a good chance.”
New five-eighth Gareth Widdop has been a major factor in St George Illawrra’s unbeaten start to the season and the joint-venture can ensure their best start since 2010 with a win at Remondis Stadium.
Carney’s been impressed with his opposite number Widdop and believes keeping the Englishman quiet will be the key to stopping the Dragons.
“He’s a class player and brought a new dimension to to his game,” he said.
“He’s their go-to man and playing some great football at the moment.”