Radradra’s gone in a flash — just like the try Parra fans will long remember
AND just like that, he’s gone.
Just as he reaches the peak of his powers, Semi Radradra has quit rugby league and will leave arguably the biggest hole in the sport since Sonny Bill Williams turned out for Toulon after his dramatic cross-code switch in 2008.
There is little doubt Radradra will be an instant hit with the same rugby club Williams starred for when he leaves for France, which could happen as early as tomorrow — with Radradra saying last week that his bags were packed and he would skip end-of-year celebrations with the Eels to join his new club.
The French rugby season started three weeks ago.
Radradra has promised he will return to the NRL and league fans will be hoping his comeback is fast-tracked as
soon as next year. Parramatta coach Brad Arthur hopes that last night’s loss would not be the last time Radradra pulls on an Eels jersey.
“It’s disappointing for Semi that we are going out on those terms,” Arthur said. “He has been great for our club. He has worked extremely hard to be the footballer he is right now.
“At some stage we would like to have him back.”
The door is ajar for a pre- June 30 comeback but it could cost Radradra up to half a million dollars, with his French rugby deal worth almost $1 million a season.
The upside is that his twoyear deal has an option in his favour, so there is a genuine belief among Eels officials that Radradra can play some part in their 2018 premiership charge. But a backflip?
Don’t hold your breath. The deal he signed would cost him about $440,000 to renege on the French club.
Toulon fans may have some reservations about cross-code imports after Cronulla premiership winner Ben Barba’s failed attempt this year, but Radradra’s in another class.
Perhaps Wendell Sailor put it best when the dual international tweeted last night: “Just a thought — don’t kick to Semi”.
North Queensland learnt the hard way.
Radradra raced 100m to score one of the best individual tries of the season to open the scoring for the Eels. He defused a contested Cowboys bomb to set ANZ Stadium alight in the seventh minute. It was his 22nd try of the year and his 82nd in just 94 games.
He will go down as one of their greatest. He sits fifth on their all-time try-scoring list.
Eels skipper Tim Mannah said Radradra was a “special player”.
“He is one of those guys you love having around,” Mannah said. “He will be missed. We wish him the best.”
Not bad for a bloke who was plucked from obscurity in Fiji and barely knew rugby league rules when he first laced on the boots for Parramatta in 2013.