Andrew Fifita and teammate Matt Prior celebrate historic grand final win with fans Photo: Getty Images
Andrew Fifita was "emotionally wrecked" leading into the grand final with the threat of expulsion from the NRL hanging over the Cronulla prop.
Revelations of Fifita's support of convicted one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge, a childhood friend, sparked an on-going investigation by the NRL integrity unit in September.
But, according to grand final hero's representatives, his treatment by the league officials left him reeling in the weeks before into the Sharks' historic premiership victory.
"They have thrown him under a bus, put it in reverse and then gone over him again," his management company I.Am.Global told Fairfax Media in a statement.
"Leading into the grand final, Andrew was not in a good head space.
"He was told his contract could be ripped up, was panicking and went into a bit of depression.
"It didn't show because he played so well, but he was emotionally wrecked up until the grand final."
Andrew Fifita takes on the defence win Photo: Getty Images
The Cronulla powerhouse was excluded from the Kangaroos' Four Nations squad due to his off-field issues.
He was also snubbed for the Clive Churchill medal despite starring in the grand final with a match-winning try.
Had he won the prestigious award, he would have given it to his "biggest inspiration", now-retired Sharks captain Michael Ennis, according to Fifita's management.
His management also accused officials of failing to meet with Fifita when he reached out to the NRL, and he was disappointed Australian Rugby League Commission chairman John Grant called for him to start "behaving like an adult".
But he wants "closure" over the saga.
The 27-year-old prop forward reportedly considered offers to play in either the English Super League or French rugby next year, but that was a worst-case scenario.
"He has never wanted to leave rugby league or Cronulla," the statement said.
"It was only that it appeared his contract would be ripped up that he had to consider plan B. It had nothing to do with the Clive Churchill medal or his omission from the Kangaroos squad.
"We have had to consider other things but only in case he loses his registration. If that doesn't happen, he isn't going anywhere."
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