This is… lord, is this ever a weird one.

Earlier today we learned that Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita was miles up shit creek sans all semblance of paddle for his continued associated with one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge, which included multiple visits to Loveridge in prison, and an insignia written on an armband worn in-game that appears to call for Loveridge’s release from prison.

On at least seven occasions this season Fifita has worn armbands in NRL games with “F.K.L.” written on it, which is speculated to stand for either “For Kieran Loveridge,” or “Free Kieran Loveridge,” or even “Forgive Kieran Loveridge.”

Whilst Fifita denied all reports that that’s what the acronym stood for, he did issue an apology to the family of Thomas Kelly over the incident, which the NRL’s Integrity Unit is investigating.

“I fully understand and accept the seriousness of the crime committed by Loveridge, the devastating impact it has had on the Kelly family and the need for Loveridge to serve his time.”

“I want to extend my sincere apologies to the Kelly family for any distress caused to them by having this tragic matter back in the media.”

Additionally, Cronulla issued a statement confirming that NSW Police had issued Fifita with a verbal warning after Fifita repeatedly made visits to Loveridge in prison.

“The player was visited by members of the NSW Police earlier in the week and put on notice that he cease any further contact with Loveridge based on facts the Police had in relation to the latter’s links to other criminal elements.

In talking with the Police, while emphasising that no allegations of unlawful behaviour have been levelled against Andrew, they confirm that they have issued a verbal warning because they are concerned about the potential for organised crime to infiltrate sport through criminal elements and for NRL players to be unwittingly drawn into that web.

Both the Club and Andrew are totally aligned with the police and the NRL in wishing to protect the game from criminal infiltration and Andrew is fully aware of the need for him to accept the directions given to him.

In relation to assertions that letters worn by Andrew on his armband earlier in the season in any way refer to Loveridge being freed the player vehemently denies them.”

The club also confirmed that Fifita is a childhood friend of Loveridge, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for the 2012 manslaughter of 18-year-old Kelly.

Fifita is free to play in this weekend’s final round clash against the Melbourne Storm, but is expected to be hauled before the NRL at some point next week.


Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty.