Fifita Opts to Represent Tonga
Incumbent Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues front-rower Andrew Fifita will not feature in the team in 2018, instead confirming he will represent Tonga during this year's State of Origin period.
Fifita, 28, who last year withdrew from Australian Kangaroos camp to represent the Mate Ma'a at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, officially confirmed his decision on a UFC podcast on Saturday.
"I’ve been putting it off for a while now ... but I won’t be playing Origin," Fifita said. "I won't be playing for Australia again and I'm sticking with Tonga."
A 10-time NSW representative, Fifita had also worn the green and gold on seven occasions before his World Cup decision.
The 2016 NRL premiership winner is eligible to represent both NSW, where he was raised and played his junior Rugby League, and Tonga, via his parents' heritage.
A scheduling clash in the 2018 Origin period forced Fifita into a decision, however, with the 2018 Pacific Test to be held on the same weekend as State of Origin Game Two at ANZ Stadium.
Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler said: "Fifita has come to a decision about his allegiance towards Tonga. I wish he and the Tongan Rugby League team all the very best."
Speaking on Fox League's Super Saturday, Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues assistant coach Danny Buderus said: “You’re never going to cut anyone off (from selection discussions), but he’s made his decision. I think that’s great for international Rugby League, it’s great for Tonga.
"The experience that they had together in that World Cup must’ve been phenomenal. I’m sure he hasn’t made his decision based on emotion, he’s made that based on where he wants to go in his career, so good luck to Andrew."