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Fifita jumped the gun, claims Bulldogs CEO

Beau Scott wrestles with Fifita

Canterbury chief executive Raelene Castle has accused Andrew Fifita of jumping the gun by announcing he was moving to the Bulldogs next season before the finer points of his contract had been agreed.
Fifita jumped the gun, claims Bulldogs CEO
by AAP

By Ian McCullough and David Barbeler

SYDNEY, March 31 AAP - Canterbury chief executive Raelene Castle has accused Andrew Fifita of jumping the gun by announcing he was moving to the Bulldogs next season before the finer points of his contract had been agreed.

Fifita announced three weeks ago that he would leave Cronulla to join the Bulldogs in 2015 on a four-year deal believed to be in the region of $850,000 a season.

The Bulldogs then confirmed the news the following day - something Castle acknowledges was a mistake after she pulled the plug on the deal on Monday.

"We agreed to a MOU (memo of understanding) before negotiating a long-form NRL contract," Castle told AAP.

"When we went through the details of the contract with Fifita's management we couldn't agree so we today we went our separate ways.

"Our media policy is that we don't announce signings until we have that long form contract signed.

"Unfortunately Andrew was under media pressure to announce his decision and he made the decision to announce he was joining the Bulldogs on Twitter.

"That put us in something of a position and we ended up in a situation that wasn't our usual media protocol."

Castle refused to divulge what part of the deal could not be agreed but maintained the club would not have been over the salary cap had Fifita signed on.

"I am not at liberty to discuss the finer points of the contract and at the end of the day we couldn't get the deal done," she said.

"There have been figures that are reported that are not correct and everyone at the club was in agreement we have made the right decision and we move on."

The decision to scrap the Fifita deal will allow coach Des Hasler to sign a top-class fullback, with Wests Tigers star James Tedesco sure to be on the club's radar.

Castle revealed the money saved on Fifita would be used to bolster other parts of the squad and acknowledged there was plenty of depth in the club's forwards to cope without him.

"Our forward pack has been very good over the last couple of week and we have a high level of comfort that we have plenty of depth," Castle said.

"This decision allows us to make other decisions about the squad."

The representative front-rower made the shock admission last week that he wished he'd signed to play rugby instead of joining Canterbury and Castle admitted she wasn't too pleased to see his comments, but denied they scuppered the deal.

"It wasn't ideal, but had we got things sorted with Fifita's management the deal would have gone ahead," she said.

"It didn't happen so we agreed to walk away."

The cash-strapped Australian Rugby Union said they would only be interested in talking to Fifita if he was willing to put rugby ahead of money.

"If Andrew wanted to talk to us, it would need to be for rugby reasons and not based on the earning capacity he could demand in league," an ARU spokesman said.

"As we are aware, we are not involved in his current or future plans."

Fifita has represented NSW Country in junior ranks and earned a place in the Brumbies development squad.

Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher said his club would only be interested in Fifita if the ARU contributed financially.

"Under the current salary conditions we wouldn't be able to afford him," Fisher said.

Fifita's manager Ben Johnston did not return AAP's calls.




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