NRL News and Talking Points: Alex McKinnon, Fifita Faux Pas , A Manly Glen Stewart?

Andrew Fifita
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Andrew Fifita
Andrew Fifita

OUTBACK, AUSTRALIA  – So far 2014 has been a topsy-turvy season with last year’s powerhouses faltering and last year’s also-rans putting in some strong performances. However, despite the Canterbury Bulldogs utterly dismantling the Melbourne Storm and the Rabbitohs being on a three-game losing streak – after having smashed the reigning champions (The Sydney Roosters) in round one – it is off-the-field incidents that are dominating the NRL News and Talking Points:

Fifita throws away multi million-dollar contract with throwaway remarks

One has to wonder who advises rugby players some times; if indeed anyone does! Either way, Andrew Fifita needs to buy himself a PR person! Offered AU$800,000 over four years by the Canterbury Bulldogs, Fifita was unsurprisingly happy to sign on the dotted line. However, after catching some flak for this landmark deal, he came out with a statement to the effect that he wished he had switched to rugby union to avoid all the abuse he was getting. Andrew, you’re a big boy. I’m sure for $3.4 million over four years you can take a little bit of ribbing, no?

Bulldogs CEO, Raelene Castle was not amused by these remarks, and promptly tore up the contract, suggesting that Fifita had prematurely announced the deal when it was not finalized.

This whole episode, apart from being staggering in its incompetence, also leaves Fifita ever so slightly in limbo. There’s apparently still an offer from his current club the Cronulla Sharks on the table, however his loyalty will be seriously called into question. There is also the option of actually moving to rugby (possibly French, maybe Australian). But the ARU has made it clear they will not spend obscene amounts of money on an untested product such as Fifita. He could make the switch (as a back row or possibly centre) as he played junior level rugby, but again it would be considerably less high profile.

Alex McKinnon pre-injury
Alex McKinnon pre-injury

Pray for McKinnon

After being the subject of a truly horrendous head-first, into the ground three-man tackle, Alex McKinnon (Newcastle Knights) was released from his induced coma three days ago. There are mixed reports. However, it appears that he has feeling in his right arm and head, though the rest of his body is currently paralyzed. One particularly forward newspaper suggested he was a quadriplegic, a rumour that was widely condemned when it emerged he did in fact have some feeling in his arm and movement of his head. He is communicating with family, however,  and there has been no further update on his condition.

The NRL judiciary has found Melbourne Storm prop Jordan McLean of the Melbourne Storm guilty of a careless lifting tackle on McKinnon. There’s no doubt he is filled with remorse about the tackle and at the professional level it is very rare for one player to intentionally do that level of damage to another player. McLean refused to watch any of the 30 replays of the incident.

Video of Tackle – PLEASE NOTE, WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK, very unsettling

Milford in contract turnaround? Yet more questions raised about the Round 13 rule.

After the furor of his signed, sealed and delivered switch to the Brisbane Broncos for family reasons, it seems that he may possibly do an about face and stay with his nursery team the Canberra Raiders. The rule in the NRL is that a player can back out of his contract up until Round 13 of the season before he transfers.It seems Anthony Milford is now remembering why he enjoys Canberra so much. The Raiders have had a history of players back flipping on deals with other clubs. Boom forward Josh Papalii backed out of a deal with the Parramatta Eels just last season and is now wondering whether his teammate may do the same.

 NRL LogoManly set to lose warhorses?

Veteran Manly centre Steve Matai has suggested that should the Sea Eagles lose inspirational back rower Glen Stewart, it could signal an exodus of the club’s big names. With his brother Brett Stewart still at the club and a new breed of Sea Eagles coming through in Kieran Foran, Peta Hiku and Daly Cherry Evans, questions will be raised as to whether Manly needs their ageing warriors.

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About Jamie Loyd 30 Articles
Jamie Loyd hails from London but has traveled the globe playing, watching and covering rugby - especially Rugby League. He's quick-witted, smart and has exceptional elbows.