Radradra’s gone in a flash — just like the try Parra fans will long re­mem­ber

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT -

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.

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