NRL: Fifita puts mental demons to rest

Paul Gallen. Photo / AP
Paul Gallen. Photo / AP

Coerced by skipper Paul Gallen into taking the field last weekend, Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita admits he didn't want to play in the opening weekend of the NRL finals for fear of tearing his calf muscle off the bone.

The stunning revelation goes some way to explaining Fifita's sub-par showing against North Queensland, but the NSW Origin prop says he is over the mental demons for the game against Manly tonight as he eyes a return to the form which had him the most feared front-rower.

"I trained [on Tuesday] and I feel magnificent," declared Fifita, who is nursing a knee and calf complaint.

The knee injury is a grade-one medial ligament strain - sustained in Saturday night's elimination final win over North Queensland - while he carried the calf ailment into the clash.

But just how much he had been carrying the injury had not been revealed, his 114 metres gained his worst performance in a game he has managed to finish in three months.

"I couldn't run - I couldn't even do the captain's run," Fifita said.

"I did a little bit and it just felt that sore.

"If there's any injury, the one thing you don't want to do is your calf, because it pretty much controls your whole body.

"I tried pulling out the night before. I had a few chats with some of the [team] leaders, 'Gal' gave me a speech about Aussies and how he did his calf and how he played and got man of the match.

"I was in la-la land last week - I don't know, I just couldn't get out of gear one. I was too scared I'd tear my calf right off the bone."

Those mental demons were still there on Tuesday, when he arrived at Sharks training with his knee in a brace and heavy strapping on his calf.

Club medical officials - already dealing with the likely absence of Todd Carney - ordered Fifita to rest. He refused.

"I shouldn't have, but I really needed to," Fifita said of taking part in the session. "I said to them, 'I really need to get my mentality right'."

And having come through the session, Fifita is ready to show his best against a Manly pack which didn't take a backward step against the Sydney Roosters last week.

Fifita owes them one too, having produced his most ineffective game of the season against the Sea Eagles in their only meeting in round six - eight runs for 73 metres in 46 minutes of game time.

- AAP

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