David Fifita ended the annoyance his protracted dalliance with leaving the Titans for forms country yesterday, when it was revealed he’d extended his time at the Good Coast for another two years.
It’s disappointing but unsurprising for the Milk. It never felt a certainty, or even likely, that Fifita would bring his talents to south Braddon. But the upside, the benefits, the sheer possibility of him filling a hole in the Canberra line-up was so exciting and enticing it makes his decision to not come saddening. Fifita and the Raiders’ right could have made sweet music. He might not have been the missing piece – after all maybe we just crash-ball our way to nothingness anyway. But man if we got it right with him around it would have been something to write about.
Alas like most dreams it ends with a groggy awakening to reality. Here’s a coffee to get you going. Canberra will now have to grow its own for the time being. Corey Harawira-Naera now has the space and opportunity to make it his own. If he defends like he did on the weekend every week, and maybe someone gets him the ball occasionally, he’ll be fine. If not, despite what appears to be a poor fit Trey Mooney is being groomed to run on that edge. He’s got enough talent to make it happen regardless, and will be a gorgeous fit with Hohepa Puru when they’re both playing first grade. It’s not so much the unspent money they’ll put into Trey, but the time, and the patience, to make the edge his own. There’s other talent too, Clay Webb most prominent, but it feels a little further from filling the gap.
People will want to take lessons from this. The main one will be a tendency to say this home grown pathway is the only realistic one for Canberra. I’m not so sure. Sure it will always be a long shot to get players like Fifita to come to the nation’s capital. There will also be many cases of the Raider Raise, where a player uses the threat to get more money out of his home club. (You can argue as to whether this is an example of that. It’s hard to say given the big money jump, from below Camberra’s 900k a year up to over a million a year, came after Brisbane’s intervention – maybe it’s a Bronco Bounce?).
Whether we want to admit it or not the Raiders have to be active in the free agent market in some form – we’re just equivocating about the timing of that and the status of the player. Joey Taps wasn’t Bruce born and bred. Hudson Young didn’t spend his youth cycling around the storm water drains the 90s Lyneham. Josh Papalii has been around long enough that they may as well make him the King of Canberra (ceremonial position – previous holders include Hau from Koolism, Dickson College alumni Paul McDermott, penis owl, and your mate Darren that time he necked a beer standing on top of a car and then fell off but somehow didn’t hurt himself seriously) but he’s still a Queenslander. The Canberra region produces plenty of talent, but not enough sure enough to make it. Their will always be need to bring people in from the outside; Canberra is not Wakanda.
These swings and misses though shouldn’t discourage, and this particular whiff shouldn’t be used as a case study for avoiding the free agent market. At one stage Shaylee Bent *was* coming to Canberra. While that didn’t mean David was, it at least meant that the Milk was a realistic possibility. It was clear from how both Ricky Stuart and Don Furner got involved that they thought it was a realistic possibility. That is evidence enough that picking the right person and the right time can mean the Green Machine can snag a big fish. Canberra has a big bag of cash and a bit of notoriety. All it takes it one and the other may follow.
For now though let’s avoid more pipe dreams. The cold reality of 2023 was put right in front of us last weekend. There’s more pressing problems to worry about than David Fifita and the Titans.
Sorry for the typos but I wrote this on the tram on the way home from a concert, and a bit at the gym at 6 in the morning. Do us a solid and like our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or share this on social media, or i’ll call you a weak-gutted dog. Don’t hesitate to send us feedback (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below if you think we are stupid. Or if we’re not.
The Raiders should never have chased Fifita. Blind Freddy could see he was never going to leave The Titans. Canberra should have gone after the young Cowboys backrower after his standout performances last year. He probably would have been here now, probably at half the price they offered Fifita and a much better long-term proposition. We miss out again by trying to chase players with no intent of coming here.
Ron Norton, 42 years of supporting and being disappointed, unnecessarily.
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