Andrew Fifita’s dad was the secret weapon who helped the Cronulla prop make a miraculous recovery last year. But Fifita is avoiding his father despite battling a nagging hamstring injury which has plagued him in recent weeks.
Fifita has a fascia injury that has left him believing he is on the verge of tearing his hamstring at times during matches. The injury restricted him to just seven minutes against Brisbane a few weeks ago before playing 51 minutes during Cronulla’s last start loss to Manly. Fifita said he needed to get over the mental barrier of the injury and have faith in his body.
“It feels like it cramps up,” Fifita said. “And then it feels like I’ve done my hammie. I’ve never done my hammie before. But then the next day I’m jumping around on my hammie and everything is fine.
“It’s in the moment. On the weekend it was on my mind a bit where I was thinking ‘is it going to go, is it going to go’. This week I’ll be ready to go. It’s one of the injuries, if it happens it happens. I need to go out with that mentality.
“It’s a mental battle. I know my body. It’s just me thinking if it’s going to go. I’m stronger and I’ve got through a game.”
So far Fifita has resisted the old-school Tongan treatment. But that hasn’t stopped his dad from reaching out. It worked last year, when Fifita said the treatment helped him rush back from a knee injury without missing a gamedespite being slated to miss about two months of football.
“He messages me three times a week to come down,” Fifita said. “I’m too scared to go see him because I know how much he hurts.
“I honestly don’t want to go see him. He will kill my legs. The way my dad does it is he stomps with everything he has. My missus loves going out there because she loves seeing me in pain.
“It’s kind of weird. He pulls out the oil and he thinks we can’t feel hot water. He gets boiling hot water out of the kettle and is dipping his hands straight in. I’m like ‘nah that’s like third degree burns’.
“He doesn’t tell me (what he does). I don’t think I’ll learn. I wouldn’t do it to my kids because I’d feel like I’d be hurting them.”
Fifita comes up against a St George Illawarra forward pack which features big men including James Graham, Paul Vaughan, Tariq Sims and Tyson Frizell. But he is more fearful of his father.
“If you ask any Tongan player they will say (they would rather play the) pack in front (rather than their dads),” Fifita laughed. “He knows how to get the body right. He knows how to hit the spots. I’m sticking with my physio stuff.
“Last year I was looking at 6-8 weeks with my knee. If it comes to that point in time I’ll go see him.
“But for now I’ll stay away.”