Andrew Fifita seemed an obvious choice to come into the Kangaroos line-up after Josh Papalii, Aaron Woods and Shannon Boyd were all ruled out, but plucking him out of the Mate Ma’a Tonga squad doesn’t sit right with me.
If Mal Meninga was picking a fair dinkum team from the outset, Fifita would have been the first front-rower picked – with only the off-field issues that saw him rubbed out of the Four Nations seemingly preventing his recall in the original squad last week.
Yet now that Big Mal is facing a bit of an injury crisis, all of a sudden Fifita fits his much-vaunted R.I.S.E character requirements?
As Paul Kent pointed out on NRL360, Fifita is yet to explain or apologise for the events that led to his exclusion from last year’s tour.
Bu the fact he was already slated to play for Tonga is the worst part of the about-face. It’s just another self-serving decision by the Australian camp at the expense of international rugby league, the same attitude that means Friday’s Anzac Test will be the last mid-season Test fixture Australia plays in the foreseeable future.
For the sake of Tonga’s preparations, why not let Fifita’s green-and-gold purgatory go on for one more match and pick Jordan McLean, Paul Vaughan, Matt Prior, Ryan James, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, James Tamou, Dylan Napa or Junior Paulo?
A near-certain recall for the World Cup – after Meninga was able to get a thorough bearing on Fifita’s headspace – would have been a far more palatable outcome for everyone.