Andrew Fifita tries to run through Melbourne's Cooper Cronk in the 2016 grand final.
Andrew Fifita tries to run through Melbourne's Cooper Cronk in the 2016 grand final. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Fifita's late switch to Tonga 'disappoints' Cronk

AUSTRALIA halfback Cooper Cronk has unloaded on Andrew Fifita following his 11th hour defection to Tonga.

The champion No.7 has branded the prop's decision to turn his back on the Kangaroos two days after being named in the team as "disappointing" and "poor".

Fifita has followed the lead of Jason Taumalolo in opting to play for the second tier nation in the World Cup, citing his father as the inspiration to pick his family heritage ahead of the green and gold.

While Cronk said he understood the reasoning behind the decision, he took issue with the timing and manner Fifita made the call.

"I've got one thought on it and I've got the thought that I probably should say. I reckon it's disappointing, I reckon it's poor," Cronk told the Big Sports Breakfast.

"If he feels more connected to the Tongan country and the jersey and rugby league in Tonga, I've got no problem with that.

"The issue I have, you want to talk about respect and carrying yourself in a respected manner, he made the phone call an hour before the team was assembling in Sydney for the official photos and things like that.

"And from reports he put something up on social media about four days before about looking forward to the World Cup and representing Australia.

"There is a right way to go about things and there is wrong way to go about things and I think he's gone about it the wrong way."

Fifita was named in Mal Meninga's Kangaroos squad earlier this week but told the coach of his decision on Thursday.

In fact, Meninga phoned Fifita on Sunday to inform him of his selection and the prop took to social media the following night to share his excitement of wearing the green and gold.

Fifita explained the motivation behind his decision, saying he wanted to honour his father's Tongan heritage.

While Meninga has publicly supported Fifita's decision, Cronk believes the Cronulla star should've made his intentions clear before the team was announced.

"He's entitled to do whatever he feels is right in his heart and his mind and if Tonga is that I've got no problem. But do it a couple of months ago," Cronk said.

"Don't let yourself go through the team announcement and then call Mal Meninga, who stood up publicly for Andrew over a period of time over a few indiscretions, an hour before the team assembles."

News Corp Australia

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