Andrew Fifita’s Cronulla teammates have admitted they are in shock, after the Sharks prop underwent successful surgery on a laryngeal fracture late on Tuesday.
- Andrew Fifita’s throat surgery was a success and he is expected to make a full recovery
- It is still not clear when Fifita copped the knock that caused the injury
- Sharks players said the team is rallying around Fifita’s family
The 32-year-old was rushed to hospital after having trouble breathing and a hoarse voice following Sunday’s NRL loss to Newcastle during which he copped a blow to the throat.
His condition deteriorated after he was subbed off in the 46th minute and assessed by paramedics before being taken to hospital about 20 minutes after the game.
The Sharks confirmed on Tuesday night the surgery had been a success, with the Tongan star to remain in ICU but expected to make a full recovery.
Although Fifita is in a stable condition the incident has rattled the Sharks playing group.
Teammates Matt Moylan and Siosifa Talakai said Fifita had appeared fine on the bench after he was interchanged, and again in the sheds after the game, until things turned.
“I didn’t see it unfold, I just heard he was going to the hospital and then got updates later,” Moylan said on Tuesday.
“Sitting on the sideline he said he copped a whack to the throat.
“He didn’t complain about anything but had a croaky voice and didn’t let on too much that there was something wrong, but it obviously must have come on pretty much straight after the game.”
Talakai said he was especially shaken.
“It’s a tough one for me. He’s like a big brother to me,” he said.
“I’m a bit rattled myself because of my personal relationship with him.”
Fifita is likely to spend a few days recovering in hospital, which is almost certain to rule him out for at least the rest of the NRL season.
It makes for a sombre mood in the Sharks camp in Brisbane as they fight to make the top eight.
But the immediate concern is for Fifita’s wellbeing as well as supporting his wife, Nikki, who is by his side in hospital.
“It’s been a big couple of days after the game with Andrew and the condition that he’s in at the moment,” Moylan said.
“A few of the boys’ partners have been really good in helping Nikki out with the kids and trying to ease a bit of pressure on them.”
It is still unknown how the injury occurred during Fifita’s 13 minutes of game time against the Knights.
A collision between David Klemmer and the former Australia and Tonga representative in the second half could have caused the fracture, with Fifita copping a blow to the throat from the Knights prop during a tackle attempt.
He also appeared to be hit around the throat by Tyson Frizell, trying to fend off a tackle, just before he left the field five minutes into the second half.
However, the NRL’s match review committee cleared any Knights player of wrongdoing in causing the injury after trawling through video footage of the game.