Kangaroos star Sam Thaiday has urged Andrew Fifita not to give up on rugby league, amid claims from the controversial front-rower he is considering defecting to a rival code.
Fifita was banned from the Australia squad for the Four Nations tournament due to his support for coward punch killer Kieran Loveridge.
The Cronulla premiership winner said on Sky News’ Jones & Co. program on Tuesday night he feared his NRL contract could be “ripped up tomorrow”.
But Thaiday, one of the game’s leading figures said he would hate to see Fifita lost to rugby league.
“Definitely. He is a huge character in our game and he is a huge drawcard for a lot of young kids out there as well,” Thaiday told AAP on Wednesday.
“He is someone that young kids look up to and aspire to be.
“Where he is getting himself into trouble at the moment is, he is making some bad decisions and some bad choices in his life.
“I think his footballing life is great and it is on track at the moment. It is just the off-field stuff that he needs to knuckle down on and get right.”
In speaking with broadcaster Alan Jones, Fifita said the NRL and police were trying to make a fool of him after he was warned for consorting with criminals for visiting Loveridge in jail
“I feel I’m on my last chance at the NRL. They all know that, I know that,” he said.
“I’m thinking the worst at the moment. I’ve got one more mess up and I’m out, my contract’s ripped up.
“So I’ve already approached my management team, I’ve already had talks with the CEO (Cronulla boss Lyall Gorman) about negotiating elsewhere in different codes because of all this stuff that’s going on.”
But Thaiday, who is in Perth with the Australian squad ahead of Saturday’s Test against New Zealand at nib Stadium, said Fifita had a big future in rugby league if he could sort himself out away from the game.
“I am sure if he can figure that stuff out he will play many, many games for Australia going forward,” the Brisbane Broncos forward said.
“But at the moment it is those things that are the problem.
“We want the best of the best playing for Australia and those players have to be the best of the best on and off the field.”