Side-step to redemption
WE do love a tale of redemption. Andrew Fifita’s story, if he is genuine, could be a cracker.
This is a bloke who has repeatedly challenged for the title of NRL’s Greatest Wally.
He was fined $20,000 for wearing wristbands declaring FKL, for Free (or For) one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge, during games, and fined $30,000 for telling a junior referee: “I’ll smash you.”
When censured, he failed to demonstrate any real remorse, saying he had only been acting as a “loyal mate” to Loveridge, and on the referee incident he said: “I will be providing apologies to the match officials involved in the game. I respect the role of match officials. I’ll be joining them, with a whistle in my mouth, at some junior games in the Shire. Although that’s part of my punishment, I’m looking forward to the experience.”
Those don’t sound like words written by Fifita himself, and they don’t sound particularly contrite.
Fifita’s conduct on both occasions was disgraceful, and an embarrassment to everyone who loves rugby league for its transformative power.
Earlier this year former NRL star Reni Maitua told The Sunday Telegraph he was spending a small fortune having several tattoos removed, because he was having trouble finding work.
Fifita has the same feeling, removing a “Forever Family” tattoo from his neck and encouraging his younger relatives to break the family tradition of having the slogan inked on their own necks.
Why? Fifita wants to work in juvenile justice, focused on mental health issues, after his football career ends, and is studying for his qualifications.
He knows the neck tattoo makes him virtually unemployable. “Where I want to work after football, with troubled kids, it’s not a good look,” Fifita tells The Sunday Telegraph today. “I want the kids to look at me seriously, so that they can take their own lives seriously.” If this is the first sign that Fifita, at the age of 27, is finally growing up, then we are delighted.
If he can walk the talk, he will be an inspiration to troubled young men.