Andrew Fifita’s foul-mouthed appearance on a podcast has embarrassed Cronulla with the giant prop in hot water for the second time in six days.
Fairfax Media reported that Fifita had been handed a written warning by the club after a cameo appearance on the Halfcast podcast alongside Sharks teammate Josh Dugan.
The appearance featured a series of expletives and a personal attack on a respected senior Sydney journalist.
Dugan, who is also expected to receive a similar warning, was pulled from a scheduled media opportunity early on Thursday morning.
The latest drama involving Fifita comes after he angrily reacted to alleged comments made by assistant coach Jim Dymock after scoring a try in Cronulla’s win over North Queensland on Saturday night.
Fifita vented his frustration towards the coach’s box at Shark Park in an ugly fashion, pointing aggressively and letting off what appeared to be a tirade of angry words.
Sharks teammate Aaron Woods, who played under-20s football with Fifita at the Wests Tigers, said Fifita had grown up plenty since those days.
“From the podcast I’ve heard it’s just him and a couple of mates probably just in a relaxed environment. I haven’t heard the podcast before but I’m assuming they speak their mind and I think he probably spoke it too much in the end,” Woods said.
“I swear a lot but I probably wouldn’t go out and swear in front of people. I honestly don’t know what he said.
“He’s a champion. He’s actually grown up a lot since when we were a kid. He’s one of the leaders at the club now and just the way he speaks on the field is a lot different to the Fifita I played with when I was younger. To his credit he has grown up a lot over that time.
“He was a bit loose when we were younger. But since I’ve come here he’s actually grown up a lot. I think he’s had three kids along the way and he’s learnt a lot of lessons. If he had his time again he probably wouldn’t say it but it was just in a relaxed environment.
Sharks halfback Chad Townsend also said he was unaware of the details around the podcast but said Fifita had immeasurably improved his leadership qualities this season.
“I encourage freedom of speech for players to talk how they feel. I think to go about it the right way though is the respectful way. Whether that’s right or wrong is not up for me to decide,” he said.
“Even from the start of the season he took massive strides when we had pretty much our whole starting forward pack out. They were injured in the game against St George and Andrew was named captain for a few weeks. That’s when he was putting back to back performances in on one leg pretty much making 200 metres every week showing his real leadership qualities which we probably haven’t seen before, to be honest.
“I definitely think he’s grown as a player and I think he plays his best football when he’s in that fired up mindset. On the weekend he really had a point to prove, I saw the fire in his eyes, he probably doesn’t score that try if he’s not as fired up.
“I got back to the goalposts and was ready to catch the kick off he looked at me deadset in the eye and said ‘give me the ball’. I could have passed it the other way to the other front-rower. At that time in the game we needed a try and he came up with the goods.
“That Andrew Fifita is probably the best front-rower in the competition, in my opinion. I think he’s shown that in the past he can be as damaging as he wants to be.
“It’s that look in his eyes. I don’t see it all the time but on the weekend I saw it. It pretty much won us the game, he’s got that ability. We want him to be focused on football and he is at the moment. Moving forward we’re looking for him to back it up and put in another good performance on the weekend.”