Fi­fi­tas stood down

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - PHIL ROTH­FIELD

THE Cronulla Sharks have stood down twins An­drew and David Fi­fita un­til an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been com­pleted into their al­leged mis­con­duct at a match in Pen­rith ju­niors over the week­end.

It fol­lows a de­ci­sion yesterday by Pen­rith ju­niors to ban the Sharks for­wards for 12 months.

The broth­ers have five days to de­cide if they will ap­peal the ju­nior league sus­pen­sions at a hear­ing or ac­cept the bans.

An­drew is ac­cused of phys­i­cally threat­en­ing the ref­eree at a match be­tween St Pa­tricks, his old club, and St Marys. His brother David was ac­cused of swear­ing at the ref­eree.

The Sharks said they were re­view­ing state­ments re­ceived from a va­ri­ety of peo­ple who were present at the match, in­clud­ing in­de­pen­dent wit­nesses, ground and match of­fi­cials and par­tic­i­pat­ing club rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

An­drew and David in­tend to chal­lenge the more se­ri­ous charges lev­elled against them.

The Cronulla club also said the pre­vi­ously re­ported video of the al­leged in­ci­dent does not ex­ist. The le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the broth­ers had in­tended to use the ev­i­dence to sup­port their case. It is be­lieved there is no video footage or pho­to­graphs of the in­ci­dent avail­able be­cause the ref­eree did not turn on the record­ing mech­a­nism on his phone.

The Sharks say they are work­ing with the NRL In­tegrity Unit while it in­ves­ti­gates the in­ci­dent and ap­pro­pri­ate sanc­tions will be put in place once the facts are es­tab­lished.

Ac­cord­ing to for­mer NRL ref­eree Phil Haines, one of the touch judges in­volved has al­ready walked away from the game fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent.

“I can con­firm that one touch judge had his son there at the day and his son is in tears,” Haines said.

“He’s made a choice, a per­sonal choice, to not put him­self or his son in that po­si­tion again. He has walked away from the game.”

Haines also said ref­eree abuse was a se­ri­ous prob­lem in ju­nior rugby league, with 30 ref­er­ees walk­ing away from the game in the past 12 months in the Pen­rith dis­trict alone.

“I’m work­ing now over at prop­erty cen­tral in Pen­rith and one of the guys, Paul Wal­lace, he coaches the Un­der 15s and I talk to him all the time and he talks to them all the time about tak­ing the ref­eree out of the game, not be­ing in­volved with any form of abuse or any­thing di­rected to­wards the ref­eree at all, not even backchat­ting and that’s the kind of model coach that we need in the game and these iso­lated in­ci­dents that oc­cur, they’re iso­lated and com­pletely un­nec­es­sary but we’ll lose three ref­eree out of this, whether it’s proven true or un­true.”

Mean­while, the Tigers have re­vealed un­der- 20s player Matthew Lodge was is­sued with a breach no­tice from the Pen­rith Ju­nior Rugby League on Mon­day.

Lodge, who is an as­sis­tant coach with a St Pa­tricks Black­town ju­nior league side, re­ceived the breach no­tice fol­low­ing his al­leged in­volve­ment in an in­ci­dent over the week­end.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.