Roosters NRL pair in swearing match
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - 7:37 PM
Sydney Roosters supremo Nick Politis has thrown his support behind embattled coach Ricky Stuart as new video footage revealed an explosive on-field altercation between star players Craig Fitzgibbon and Brett Finch.
The heated exchange occurred during the side's 42-10 NRL loss to Canberra on Saturday, with prop David Shillington forced to defuse the ugly confrontation.
The incident took place after Finch put through a poor fourth-tackle kick into the Canberra in-goal, which was fielded on the full by Raiders centre Phil Graham.
Fitzgibbon, who has re-signed with the club for a further year, was upset Finch didn't put the ball through the hands, igniting an incredible slanging match which can be viewed on the rleague.com website.
Fitzgibbon: "in' push it!"
Finch: "I couldn't get the c**t through."
Fitzgibbon: "Shut your in' mouth."
Finch: "Shut yours, you fu**er!"
Fitzgibbon: "I couldn't get it through!"
(Shillington tries to intervene)
Fitzgibbon: "Don't in' speak to me like that!"
Fitzgibbon has played down the incident, claiming there was no bad blood between him and Finch.
"There was nothing in it, it was just heat of the moment stuff that happens all the time," Fitzgibbon told AAP.
"There's no ill-feeling there, it's just the way it goes.
"We're doing our best and if anything it shows how much we care about the club and try to turn things around.
"(Frustration) is all it is, me and Finchy are good mates.
"It's just passion, showing that we care.
"We're playing a pretty unforgiving sport and you have to be able to take criticism, but sometimes frustrations boil over."
The pair spoke about the incident afterwards, with Fitzgibbon claiming they had both "moved on".
"It's not something we need to go on about because as soon as the game was finished we shook hands and he told me I played well and I told him he played well," he said.
"It's passion, it happens at every club, not just ones that are struggling."
Roosters CEO Brian Canavan was unaware of the incident until quizzed about it.
"It's obviously of no great concern because it hasn't been mentioned to me or any of the others, nobody has mentioned it anywhere within the club," he said.
"The talk of the players after the game was that they need to take responsibility for their own performances."
The club took the unprecedented step of issuing a media release quoting Politis and Roosters greats Luke Ricketson and Brad Fittler to counter rumours of division in the playing ranks.
The move follows reports there was a rift between senior and upcoming players and a scathing appraisal of the team's performance by Stuart after the thumping by Canberra.
The Kangaroos coach labelled the performance the worst defensive effort he had seen as coach and blasted some of his players as "passengers".
The Roosters have lost five in a row and are currently equal second last on the competition ladder.
There are also reports utility Craig Wing is unhappy at the club and is considering a move back to rugby union.
"The Sydney Roosters thrive on loyalty and support of each other during difficult periods," Politis said in the statement.
"Contrary to some ill-informed comments, I re-confirm Ricky Stuart and his coaching team have our full support."
Ricketson added: "I still mix with the players socially and at club events and I can assure you there is no ill feeling ... they are good guys who get on well."
Politis also offered a parting shot to the club's critics.
"To our critics, good luck, you can criticise us as much as you want but you will not divide the Roosters," he said.
"We have been around too long, we know each other too well and we stick solid on and off the field."