Coach’s blunt admission after freak accident

Sharks coach Josh Hannay says the club is still searching for answers in the wake of Andrew Fifita’s freak injury.

After his side’s loss to Newcastle on Sunday, Fifita was rushed to hospital with a “significant” laryngeal injury. The 32-year-old was subsequently placed in an induced coma in the intensive care unit of a Brisbane hospital.

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While Fifita is expected to make a full recovery, Hannay said the club was unsure how the 2016 premiership winner’s immediate future would play out.

“There still is a lot of concern for Andrew and for his partner Nikki and the family,” Hannay told reporters on Friday.

“Certainly those first couple of days were really stressful on everyone because we just weren’t sure at that point what the prognosis looked like.

“We still don’t have a lot of answers, to be really honest.

“The good thing is that he’s in a stable condition and hopefully we can have some good news soon on Andrew.”

Hannay recounted the “stressful” scenes that unfolded inside the sheds and on the field at Redcliffe’s Moreton Daily Stadium on Sunday evening.

“(Fifita) never made a real fuss, to be honest, in the sheds. He quietly walked over to the doctor and he could obviously start to sense or feel that he was starting to struggle to breathe,” Hannay recalled.

“There was no panic within the dressing sheds; it wasn’t until he went outside and there was some medical staff outside with him that there was a realisation and understanding of the severity of the situation.

“All of a sudden it went from seemingly nothing being wrong with Andrew to seemingly he was in a really stressful situation.

“You could see the stress on other peoples’ faces.

“Things became fairly concerning fairly quickly.”

Fifita left the field following his injury.Source:Supplied

Hannay said the club had had no direct contact with Fifita but that they have been communicating “regularly” with his partner, who Hannay said had been by Fifita’s side every day.

“She’s keeping us updated on the situation and how he’s doing,” Hannay said.

Hannay said that while the fallout from the accident had been “taxing” for his playing group, it was encouraging to see “smiles on faces” at training as the week progressed.

“I think (the players) have been able to compartmentalise Andrew’s situation and obviously the need to be really focused for this game this weekend,” he said.

“They seem in really good spirits.”

At the same time, Hannay said it was vital to ensure his players felt they had room to process the situation.

“The thing you have to do is pay any critical situation the respect it deserves and not just move on and just get on with life, because that’s just fake,” he said.

“We all have to process tough times and deal with those in our own way.

“Certainly it was just about making sure we were really open and honest with each other about how we were feeling about things and not rushing or not making anyone feel like we’ve got to just get on with life.

“It’s about handling the situation really delicately and being really respectful of everyone’s feelings.”

Following the dismissal of John Morris earlier this season, Hannay was appointed Cronulla’s interim coach. Picture: Ashley Feder / Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The injury has put Fifita’s NRL future in serious jeopardy. The 32-year-old has a year to run on his contract but on Monday night’s episode ofNRL 360, News Corp’s Phil Rothfield said Fifita could well have played his last game of footy.

Regardless, Hannay said he hoped Fifita’s teammates would have him in mind during this weekend’s game, encouraging them to “do it a little bit for Andrew”.

A win over the Tigers this weekend is crucial to the Sharks’ finals bid – they can all but kiss September footy goodbye if they can’t bank the two points on Saturday afternoon.

The clash will be the first played in Rockhampton in premiership history.

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