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Fifita warned over consorting with crims

NZN 31/08/2016

Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita has been warned for consorting with criminals by police just over a week out from the NRL finals.

Gangs Squad detectives visited Sharks training on Wednesday to issue the State of Origin forward with the caution, reportedly linked to a long-time mate in jail.

It's the fourth time this year police have used the controversial consorting law - designed to tackle organised crime, particularly bikie gangs - to warn a NRL player.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said on Wednesday night the incident should serve as another reminder to players and officials to be careful who they associated with.

"We are determined to work with police to ensure that criminal elements do not infiltrate our game," he said in a brief statement.

However, it's thought unlikely Fifita will be stood down by Cronulla ahead of the club's final-round clash on Saturday with the Storm in Melbourne.

Chief executive Lyall Gorman told News Corp Australia Fifita had explained that the matter concerned the fact he was "a loyal friend and he still keeps in touch with mates he grew up with in the west".

"Andrew has been warned about continuing to mix with these people who may have made some wrong choices," Gorman was quoted as saying.

"It's important to state there are no fines; there are no sanctions; there are no allegations; there are no charges at all."

Parramatta star Corey Norman, former Penrith hooker James Segeyaro and ex-Eel Junior Paulo received warning notices in May for consorting.

Norman's NRL season came to an abrupt halt on July 21 when he was suspended for eight weeks and fined $20,000.

The governing body took a hardline stance after he'd attracted a string of damaging headlines, including pleading guilty after being caught in May with MDMA and muscle relaxants at The Star casino.

On the same night, he was photographed alongside housemate Segeyaro and then-teammate Paulo dining with bikies.

"This reflects poorly on the players involved and is a bad look for the game," Greenberg said at the time.

"I would expect those who have received warnings to take them very seriously.

"The penalties for ignoring a warning are severe and we fully support the police in the action they have taken."

It's not the first time Fifita's behaviour has come to the attention of the NRL either.

Last year, he was suspended for six matches and fined $30,000 over his abuse of a referee at a junior rugby league match.

The 27-year-old was also required to perform 25 hours of community service, undergo anger management training and issue a written apology to the match officials involved.

His twin brother David, who was also a party to the incident, was banned for six games as well.

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