Just last week, Andrew Fifita said he wished he never signed the $3.5 million, four-year deal with the Bulldogs that made him the highest paid prop forward in the history of the world, ever.
Instead, he wished he had signed with rugby union.
After the Bulldogs announced on Monday that the deal with Fifita was off, the game they play in heaven is suddenly an option again.
Bulldogs chief executive Raelene Castle said via a statement that they couldn’t agree on the final terms of his contract, even though they had announced his signing weeks ago.
The smokescreen, alas, couldn’t save Fifita from the ignominy of losing a deal worth $850,000 a year because of some boneheaded words to AAP journalist Darren Walton.
Don’t go changin’, rugby league, you magnificent, imperfect beast. What else would be left to discuss in this pathetic existence otherwise known as life if we did not have you?
Fifita’s costly words have shades of Josh Dugan’s explosive remarks to a fan on social media last year, which cost him a lifeline at the Broncos.
Seriously, who advises footballers on what they should or should not say? Evidently, nobody.
Did Fifita seriously think Bulldogs coach Des Hasler would want to hear him say this last week: “If I could go back now, I wish I chose rugby and then I wouldn't be getting all the shit I've been catching now. I grew up playing rugby so it was one of the best things. It's always going to be there and I will eventually go to union.”
Presumably, “the shit” he’s been receiving is from Sharks fans - although captain Paul Gallen made similar remarks - that he had left purely for the money, when the Cronulla offer was only marginally smaller than that of the Dogs.
In some regards, the criticism of Fifita was harsh. It’s interesting to hear critics toss about terms about “loyalty” when it’s not their livelihood or future or family on the line.
Andrew Fifita can sign for whoever he wants, for however much he can get.
There can be no disputing the beauty in Fifita’s story in the last year. Discarded by the Wests Tigers, he found a home at Cronulla, made the most of it, earned a call-up for NSW, played the house down, and then earned selection for his country at the World Cup.
He struggles, though, with his work off the field.
When it was reported in December he had met with the Wallabies' Ewen McKenzie, he slammed the mere notion that he was headed to rugby union.
"I don't know what these rumours are. I had no meeting," Fifita told a local Griffith newspaper in December. "I don't know anything about it. My manager just rang me and said there was a big article coming on you and said look out. There's no real truth to it."
Then, on January 17, Fifita said this: “[McKenzie] asked me if I wanted to chase another dream pretty much and it always has been a dream of mine to play first grade rugby - I grew up playing rugby.”
Fifita said this in the same interview: "I've accomplished almost everything rugby league has to offer.”
Except an NRL premiership, and a State of Origin series.
Hasler has been feeling some heat of his own for spending such an enormous amount on a prop, albeit a very talented one, especially when he cannot land a replacement for fullback Ben Barba.
Just as many club bosses were bemused at how Wayne Bennett’s multi-million dollar deal at Newcastle inflated the asking price of all coaches, the Belmore club’s deal-that-wasn’t with Fifita has suddenly sent the price for bookends spiralling out of control.
Now, Fifita and his new management are the ones without a seat in the big game of musical chairs that is the NRL player market.
The ARU would look like absolute fools if they were to sign Fifita now, after he rebuffed their earlier approaches.
And what of the Sharks?
A few weeks ago, Fifita broke down in the sheds telling his teammates that he was bound for Belmore.
The word in the hours after the Bulldogs bombshell was that he was likely to re-sign with Cronulla.
The figure being tossed about was $600,000 a year - a quarter of a mill plus drinking silver less than he would’ve received at the Bulldogs.
All over a throwaway line about rugby union.
Imagine all “the shit” Fifita will be catching now.
The story Andrew Fifita's throwaway line may have cost him $250,000 first appeared on Brisbane Times.