Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has issued Andrew Fifita a stern reminder in the wake of his contrary conduct ban that a repeat of such ill discipline could cost him a grand final spot.
Fifita was issued a one-match suspension after his attack on Queensland forward Gavin Cooper in State of Origin III on Wednesday night that resulted in his sin-binning in the second half of the Blues’ win.
The former Kangaroos representative has worked hard to avoid such issues that threatened to derail his career and Flanagan said on Sunday the ban was a reality check for Fifita.
“It is a timely reminder for us and a timely reminder for Andrew as well that you could miss a semi-final for something like that, you could miss the grand final if we are lucky enough to get there,” Flanagan said.
“We have to make sure it doesn’t happen down the track.
“Andrew has a bit of a break now and it is a chance to recalibrate, refocus and reset for him.
“I know Andrew is a `look after your halfback’ type of frontrower, but he probably went a little too far there and he will learn from it. The emotion of Origin probably got to him.”
Fifita’s attack on Cooper was in retaliation to the North Queensland forward throwing the ball at Blues’ pivot Moylan after a Maroons try.
Fifita, who has been given a break from all football related duties by Flanagan this week following the ban, will miss the Sharks’ clash with Sydney Roosters on Monday at Allianz Stadium.
Flanagan conceded it was a blow to his side as they chase their 14th successive win.
However he argued last week’s win over Penrith, achieved without their Origin players was proof of the depth at Cronulla.
“Andrew without doubt carries a lot of metres for us and makes a lot of tackle breaks but last week you saw given the opportunity the other boys that come in can do a pretty similar job,” Flanagan said.