The NRL community is rallying around stricken Sharks veteran Andrew Fifita after he was taken to hospital after suffering an injury to his larynx in their loss to the Knights.
The Tongan international was taken to hospital in Queensland after being treated pitchside when he had difficulty breathing.
The Sharks forward was placed in an induced coma, with The Daily Telegraph’s Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield revealing details of the chaotic 24 hours and what might come next for Fifita.
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“It’s not great to be honest,” Rothfield told NRL360 on Fox League.
“When he was admitted last night, he was taken away in an ambulance.
“He was placed in an induced coma and the media respected that and kept it private because it was to solve his breathing difficulties.
“His wife got to the hospital and spoke with the surgeon.
“One option is to undergo surgery on his larynx. They will know more in the next couple of days.
“Sadly, and although we aren’t certain, it could be a career ender at 32 years of age.
“Interestingly at the Sharks, Jack Williams, the five-eighth not the forward, suffered the same injury in a trial day, he was put in a coma, got out and he’s not playing footy anymore.
“Cronulla’s main doctor who is still in Sydney has to speak to those surgeons.
“It’s a sporting issue to a lesser degree but it’s the rest of his life isn’t it? Being able to talk the best he can without the Lockyer voice.”
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Rothfield’s Daily Telegraph colleague and NRL360 co-host Paul Kent said Fifita was placed in a coma to relieve the stress on his body as it cooled down after the Sharks’ game.
“It’s an awful injury to suffer and I will say the extent of it – the fact he’s been put in an induced coma is unusual – but you’ve got to listen to Darren Lockyer, Gary Larsson, Geoff Toovey who have had their voices changed permanently for having whacks in the throat,” Kent said.
“It’s an occupational hazard. I think the fact of his age and the rest of it will contribute to whether he continues playing.
“Nobody likes to see it happen, but the collision was fairly innocuous. You don’t see him reel out any incident.
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“Whatever damage he suffered during the game he was able to continue, walk off the field and it’s only when his body has cooled down, the swelling took over and the adrenaline left his body, that’s only when he started to have problems.
“It’s terrible news and it’s unfortunate it happened.
“When swelling begins to take place the longer you go, you swell more and that’s what would’ve interfered with his airways which is why after we see the stress out of him and he had begun to realise he wasn’t breathing as well as he was five minutes earlier and as the swelling takes place, that’s why they induced him to take the stress out of his body.”
The NRL is now examining additional footage to see if there was any foul play which led to Fifita’s injury.
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