Fifita named for All Stars game despite breach notice
RUGBY LEAGUE: Controversial Shark Andrew Fifita is expected to be front and centre for the Indigenous All Stars when they take on the World All Stars in February.
Despite being given a show cause breach notice by the NRL over his relationship with convicted killer Kieran Loveridge, Fifita has been named in the front row for the clash on February 10 in Newcastle.
The league's Integrity Unit began an investigation into Fifita after he wore an arm band with the letters "FKL” written on the strapping, which he later revealed stood for "For Kieran Loveridge”.
Loveridge was convicted of the one-punch killing of Thomas Kelly in Kings Cross in 2012 and is now serving a 10-year sentence.
Fifita was in turn left out of Australia's Four Nations campaign, despite being a walk-up starter after helping lead the Sharks to their drought-breaking premiership win.
The 27-year-old, who has five days to respond to the breach notice, is now expected to escape with only a fine - in the vicinity of $20,000 - rather than a suspension, which the Sharks had feared.
Fifita has previous played in the 2012, 2013 and 2016 All Stars games.
"Andrew Fifita had a terrific year last year,” Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley said.
"The selection criteria was he was available, so the fans have picked him, so he's been included.
"I've coached him before and certainly had no issues with him. He's always proud and he loves playing in this game.
"It will depend on what the breach notice says and whether it's a fine or whether he's looking at missing games (but) he has been selected subject to him being cleared.
"I'd say he'd be looking to put it all (the Loveridge saga) behind him over the next three or four days.”
Fifita will line up in a strong Indigenous All Stars side also featuring Kangaroos representatives Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis, Sam Thaiday and Blake Ferguson.
The World All Stars have included Jarryd Hayne at fullback - as one of Fiji's representatives - but Queensland and Australian captain Cameron Smith was not included because of his packed schedule during the next 12 months, which will include the World Cup.
Sydney Roosters rake Jake Friend will slot in at No.9 in Smith's absence, while Mitchell Moses and Adam Reynolds will line up in the halves.
While Daley takes the reins of the Indigenous team for the fourth time, Mal Meninga will become a first-time coach of the World All Stars.
The 2017 clash - at McDonald Jones Stadium - will be the first time the match has been played outside of Queensland in its seven-year history.
Indigenous All Stars: Jack Wighton, Blake Ferguson, Greg Inglis, Will Chambers, Dane Gagai, Johnathan Thurston, Ash Taylor, Ryan James, Nathan Peats, Andrew Fifita, Joel Thompson, Wade Graham, Sam Thaiday. Interchange: Tyrone Peachey, Jack Bird, Leilani Latu, Latrell Mitchell, Aidan Sezer, Kyle Turner, Adam Elliott.
World All Stars: Jarryd Hayne, David Mead, Joseph Leilua, Konrad Hurrell, Nene Macdonald, Mitchell Moses, Adam Reynolds, Nate Myles, Jake Friend, Jordan McLean, Gavin Cooper, Bryce Cartwright, Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Sosaia Feki, Sione Mata'utia, Sam Lisone, Moses Mbye, Tepai Moeroa, Jordan Turner.