Wife puts homesick Fifita back on track at Cup

Manchester: Kangaroos enforcer Andrew Fifita has revealed how, while he was battling a severe bout of homesickness, his wife, Nikkita, propelled him to snap out of his funk enough for him to earn the players’ player award in Australia’s final pool game against Ireland.

The Fifitas sacrificed their honeymoon to allow Andrew to make his Australian debut, and he was given just one day’s leave for his wedding when the Kangaroos entered their World Cup camp.

But despite featuring in all of Australia’s World Cup matches so far, Fifita wasn’t satisfied until his performance in the 50-0 win against Ireland, where he started on the bench.

“She said I needed to pull my finger out because I didn’t think I was playing that good,” Fifita said. “She said, ‘Grab the ball and go hard’. My debut and the second game I played, I thought I did make good impact but wasn’t as good. I think I went out a bit cocky in the first game and they put me on my back. I said, ‘I need to run harder’ or something and the next one I did.”

Nikkita arrives on Thursday, with the couple’s son, Latu Jay, who celebrates his first birthday on November 20. Their arrival can’t come soon enough for Fifita.

“I’m having big troubles, homesickness-wise,” he said. “I’ve come straight from my wedding. I’m meant to be on this honeymoon stage. I have never felt this before, the feelings I have for my son. I’m missing him so much.

“They leave next Wednesday but I won’t see them until they get to London. It’s my son’s birthday, so I am anxious to see them. If I have a team dinner, I’ll ask to have it off or bring them to team dinner.

“I’m Face-Timing — thank you for technology. It makes you miss them even more because you see them through a screen. Your heart goes out because you can’t hug or give them a kiss.”

While Fifita’s appraisal of his form has been tough, there is no doubt he has cemented his position on the Kangaroos’ bench. He has lifted the tempo in his three outings and has been among Australia’s top three forwards for metres gained in each game.

After finishing the NRL season as Cronulla’s top try-scorer, Fifita added another four-pointer with his first Test try against Ireland.

“The try was excellent,” he said. “It was off ‘Gal’ [Paul Gallen] and I saw Gal running out and I thought there was a hole there, so I went for it. Gal [earlier] said, ‘Let’s have a competition on who will score the most points’ and he came straight up to me and said he isn’t going to count that one.”

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