Final countdown


Canberra are not out of the race for David Fifita’s signature. At least that’s what Ricky Stuart wants you to know.

It must have been a struggle, but Sticky found a kind ear in the media to print a series of quotes from him (as well as a pitch from Glenn Lazarus – I’m glad he was available). Jimmy Hooper provided the format and the digital space, and Sticky told the world that the Raiders and David could still happen.

It was clear from the quotes that it’s not a done deal. Sticky told the world:

David’s got a big decision to make and we’ve told him why we believe he’d be a perfect fit at the Raiders. I don’t want to play it out in the media and we’ll give David the space he needs to make his decision.

Sticky to Hoops

Apart from the sheer comedy of talking to the media about not wanting it to be in the media, my main takeaway is Stuart’s desire to not be seen as out of it. Perhaps he senses Fifita being on the fence and doesn’t want the Titans option to become a fait accompli. The pitch is still there, the argument still relevant. The fact it’s him putting his name to it suggests that he doesn’t thing a decision has been made. So take heart.

Interestingly Sticky revealed aspects of the pitch that he’d made to Fifita. We’ve theorised these before but it was intriguing (and a little bit gratifying) to see him in the print. Stuart made it clear the pitch was fit; within the pack, and within the leadership structures provided by that pack.

I’ve told David I believe our leaders could really benefit him. We’re very fortunate that we’ve got an extremely experienced, talented forward pack and adding David would only make us even stronger.

Stick to Hoops

It speaks to another feeling we’ve had over the last twelve months – that Joey Taps has gone from one of the boys to a leader. Papa had always felt a bit too kind to be a leader. Something about Tapine’s attitude has changed – witness his stated desires to captain, and his pride at leading the Maori side. Neither Papalii nor Whitehead have ever expressed that desire. Tapine could be just what Fifita needs.

Another interesting piece of information revealed is that it’s believed a decision will be made in the next fortnight. That matches the timeline the Titian’s CEO revealed earlier in the week. So either way, you’ll be spared my prognostications shortly.

As to whether this changes much I’m ready to tap out. Stuart’s quotes are non committal, suggesting he’s not sure which way Fifita is going to go. If that’s the case, then it gives him something in common with all of us. Potentially one might take the vibe as desperate – and reminding Fifita of the option so publicly a last resort – but it feels more to me like Stuart is wary of the personal difficulty a decision like this can bring for a player like Fifita. He doesn’t want to push too hard and into the Titans arms.

At this point it’s like a $20m lotto ticket. I’m just enjoying thinking of what might be. I’ll buy a house there, a backrower here, sponsor Hudson Young just so I can come to the club events and stand near him. It’ll be grand if it does happen, but I’m prepared for it not too. Our feeling from earlier in the week stands. The Titans are confident, the Raiders more the dreaded “mathematical” chance.

But at the very least we can move on from this before the season starts (hopefully). That’s better for the Raiders than the alternative. The longer this discussion goes the more clubs will be involved, and the bigger the financial risk. No doubt it would also play on the minds of the people who’s role he may take. Clear eyes and full hearts are needed this season. Roster clarity would be a nice addition.

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