Waratahs deny having spoken to Andrew Fifita
February 26, 2014
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New South Wales Waratahs coach Michael Cheika says he hasn't spoken to rugby league star Andrew Fifita about switching codes, but he expects the Cronulla Sharks powerhouse will want to stay in Sydney if he does sign with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).
Fifita was spotted in the crowd at the Waratahs' first-up win over Western Force on Sunday, but Cheika says discussions so far have been led by Ewen McKenzie and the ARU.
Cheika said it wasn't the game's intention to poach the best talents in the National Rugby League (NRL), saying the onus was on the players to express interest in crossing codes - as Israel Folau, Sonny Bill Williams, Benji Marshall and Sam Burgess have done in recent times. But he expects he may get a phone call if the ARU and Fifita make headway.
"If Fifita said he wanted to come and play rugby, the first place he would look is probably the Waratahs because he's from New South Wales," Cheika said.
"He's played Origin for NSW and you'd think he'd want to play for NSW. But there's four other Super Rugby teams in Australia that he could play for as well. "It's a bit of a [news] paper thing at the moment. There can't be any interest unless the guy actually comes up to us and says 'I'm interested in playing'.
"I don't think it's rugby's intention to say 'let's go out and get this league player'. As is happening more and more now, if a player decides he wants to cross codes ... you don't really think about it until then."
Cronulla are confident of retaining Fifita, but reigning NRL premiers Sydney Roosters are chasing him as a replacement for Sonny Bill Williams. South Sydney are also interested in signing him as a replacement for Burgess.