Fifita’s welfare crucial, says Sharks boss

Andrew Fifita’s mental welfare is a major consideration as Cronulla and the NRL continue to investigate allegations that the representative star and twin brother David threatened match officials last weekend.

The twins have been stood down by the Sharks pending the conclusion of the investigation and banned for 12 months from Penrith junior rugby league matches following the incident at Glenwood on Saturday.

Andrew Fifita earlier this season revealed he suffered from depression last year after losing his NSW State of Origin and Australian Test spots and enduring the stress of having a multi-million-dollar deal with Canterbury ripped up.

Gorman admits the issue is a delicate one.

“His history has been documented and we have a major, major welfare focus on every single player in our club obviously,” Gorman said on Wednesday.

“There’s a duty of care policy for all stakeholders in this and that’s why we haven’t made comments at all publicly about any of the stakeholders, whether it’s been officials, the local association or any of our own players.

“Our club has a major focus on duty of care across the board, including Andrew and David obviously.”

Andrew Fifita is alleged to have said “I’ll smash you” to a referee, but has since claimed he only threatened to smash a phone after the official filmed the incident and threatened to use it as evidence against the NRL star.

“He seems to have made those comments publicly,” Gorman said.

“I don’t really want to pre-empt the case itself, prejudice it.

“I think there have been some comments by other parties in the last couple of days which haven’t been helpful for the players trying to prepare properly for this.

“(But) I have gone on the record and said that there certainly is some debate in the players’ minds about the facts presented.”

Gorman admitted if Fifita’s claim that he didn’t threaten the referee was proven true, “there would be a margin of difference absolutely”.

The Sharks are hoping to close the matter as soon as possible.

“Both us and the NRL continue to get all the evidence and supporting statements that we can, allow the players time to engage their own legal representatives and be well represented to come and present whatever case they choose to present,” Gorman said.

“We are hopeful of getting that done very, very quickly … so that whatever the outcomes are, they can be made public and we can move forward.”

The brothers sat out training with the Sharks on Wednesday but were scheduled to have a gym session in the afternoon.

“They’re obviously distressed and disappointed, but we’re working as hard as we can to keep their spirits up,” Gorman said.

Skipper Paul Gallen, who re-signed with the club for a 16th season on Wednesday, said he was hopeful of having the Fifitas back on deck this season, but conceded their fate was out of his hands.

“Hopefully a decision can be made as quick as possible for everybody’s sake,” he said.

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