Will Australian and NSW representative prop be the man to replace Sonny Bill Williams at the Roosters next year?
Speculation from the Daily Telegraph seems to think it is a possibility, with a battle between the two clubs seemingly being played out without anyone’s knowledge.
According to an article on News.com.au:
PREMIERS the Sydney Roosters have entered the race to sign Andrew Fifita, taking on arch-rivals South Sydney in a bidding war that could result in the NSW Origin and Test prop commanding upwards of $750,000 per season.
The Roosters will have room under their salary cap next year thanks to Sonny Bill Williams’ return to rugby union, while three current props — Dylan Napa, Sam Moa and Kane Evans — are all currently off-contract.
With the league world abuzz with speculation that Fifita has verbally agreed to join Souths, The Daily Telegraph learned that his new management team has spoken to the Roosters in recent days.
It is understood the Roosters intend to use Fifita’s close ties with NSW and Australian teammate Michael Jennings as a bargaining chip to try and convince him to sign at Moore Park rather than Redfern.
It also fails to mention Shaun Kenny-Dowall is off contract, and that Fifita’s asking price in that article is $50,000 less than SBW’s reported contract.
With all those players off-contract the Roosters could, in theory, offer Fifita upwards of $1 million per season. He would presumably move into Moa’s spot should the burly, nuggety front rower not be re-signed.
Now, we probably should have prefaced the story with the fact that the media has gotten a few things wrong — at best — when it comes to the Roosters and recruitment, and the Roosters are constantly thrown into these kinds of stories. They were rumoured to be in the hunt for Sam Tomkins as well, and that proved to be false.
But they also saw the SBW signature at Bondi coming… so there’s that.
There will be no replacing Sonny Bill Williams and what he brings to the table: professionalism, pride, the game’s most incredible offload, an ability to play the full 80 and speed for his size.
But Fifita would come pretty darn close . He’s a tackle-busting fiend and a guaranteed 10 metres every hit-up. He has a sneaky good offload and is near impossible to stop near the line.
If the rumours are true it would be a coup for the Roosters, who will have a lot of money to burn in the salary cap.
In addition, if they don’t get him there isn’t much out there in the way of big names who could foreseeably fill the big-name breach on the open market.
Off-contract stars in 2014
(per Zero Tackle)
Shaun Fensom, Raiders: A tackle machine that can play the full 80. His running game isn’t anywhere near SBW’s, but it’s not hideous either.
Ryan Hoffman, Storm:
Blake Ferguson, nowhere: I’d rather have Hoffman. It would be very tough for me to support the Roosters if they signed this guy.
Anthony Watmough, Sea Eagles: He’s highly unlikely to ever leave Brookie, and it’s unlikely the Roosters would want him. But he does fit the bill, from a running game perspective at least.
Tohu Harris, Storm: Wouldn’t that be some form of irony? Harris eventually gets the spot SBW vacates. Wonderful. Let’s just hope SBW backflips again.
So, what now?
See what I mean? Pretty slim pickings, especially when you are trying to replace a player the calibre of SBW.
Fifita is the prize, and it was rumoured he’d been all but wrapped up by the Bunnies for next year especially with the departure of Sam Burgess.
The Roosters do have the money, though, and the need. They will push hard for this signature, and they’ll cite everything from Fifita’s close connection to Jennings to the player-friendly coaching of Trent Robinson. They could also sign his brother to a contract, such is the space they have under the cap.
And the Godfather, Nick Politis, has the money and the influence to make Fifita “an offer he can’t refuse”.
But should they just have faith in their development? Evans seemingly has all the tools, and his speed and power out wide means he could be a very effective second-rower. The one thing about Evans that stands out for mine is that he just glides out there. He moves so well for a player his size, a natural athlete if ever there was one.
But I guess we’ll see soon. Fifita and his team, I am sure, will be looking for a quick resolution to his future, and conjecture around the Roosters could be total nonsense.
We will see.