“It’s every kid’s dream to play for Australia, let alone the NRL. I’m just happy to be in the squad”: Andrew Fifita. Photo: Brendan EspositoKangaroos World Cup squad
Before this season, Andrew Fifita told his Cronulla teammates he was getting married on the Sunday after the grand final, firmly believing his Sharks would be celebrating by then. What he didn’t count on was his own form.
While it was not enough to carry him to a premiership, it has given him a seat on the Australian squad’s plane bound for the World Cup – just hours after getting married. Just when his honeymoon was pencilled in. Fifita, arguably the form front-rower of the season, has been forced to skip his honeymoon as a result of the clash with his nuptials, which were two years in the planning.
”I told ‘Flanno’ [coach Shane Flanagan] and the boys that I was getting married the weekend after the grand final,” Fifita said just hours after his selection for his first national squad. ”I was going out there to win the grand final. That was the plan.”
Which was a good plan amid his breakout season for the Sharks. ”I never thought I’d have the year I’d have,” Fifita said. ”It’s every kid’s dream to play for Australia, let alone the NRL. I’m just happy to be in the squad – it’s a hard squad to make; you have to keep out some of the best players in the world.”
While most of the 24-man Kangaroos squad will assemble on Sunday for a training session at WIN Jubilee Oval, Fifita will join the camp on Monday.
”I had heard rumours that they were going into camp on Tuesday or Wednesday,” Fifita said. ”I don’t know how I would have got out of that.”
On Monday, as his selection sunk in, he was preparing for his niece’s impending shoe fitting. He will still meet his new World Cup teammates on Thursday when the squad assembles for a half-day camp. Fifita said his fiancee, Nikkita, was ”jumping for joy” when he gained selection. ”It’s been a big year and she’s over the moon,” he said. ”I know I’m giving up the honeymoon to go away with the boys. [Nikkita] was actually happy to move the wedding, but we had a plan about two years ago and this is the biggest day of her life. I don’t want to wreck it. [But] she knows it’s my dream to play for Australia.”
Fifita, who said he was unsure when he would reschedule his honeymoon, said he aimed to ”show people I can play rep footy and international footy”.
”I just want to play my guts out, bring that impact,” said Fifita, who will reunite with his former Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens for the tournament.
On Monday, Sheens named his squad, which included three players from Sunday’s grand final – Roosters premiership winners Boyd Cordner and Michael Jennings, as well as Manly’s Clive Churchill medallist Daly Cherry-Evans. Sea Eagles Anthony Watmough and Glenn and Brett Stewart were ruled out through injury.
Both Roosters players will be assessed on Thursday. Cordner had only returned to the Roosters for the grand final after being sidelined with an ankle injury, while Jennings suffered neck-back damage as he scored the miraculous match-sealing try.
He will have scans this week but is expected to be fit to tour. ”Michael has been picked and will most likely be OK,” doctor John Orchard said. ”[But] it’s possible the scans will deliver bad news.”
The Kangaroos World Cup squad
Greg Bird, Darius Boyd, Daly Cherry-Evans, Boyd Cordner, Cooper Cronk, Robbie Farah, Andrew Fifita, Paul Gallen, Jarryd Hayne, Greg Inglis, Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis, Brett Morris, Josh Morris, Nate Myles, Josh Papalii, Corey Parker, Matt Scott, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith (capt), James Tamou, Brent Tate, Sam Thaiday, Johnathan Thurston.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.