This week, Cronulla Sharks prop Andrew Fifita found himself in some fairly deep shit, over the bizarre revelation that he has been publicly supporting one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge for months.
On at least seven occasions this season, Fifita has taken to the field wearing an arm strap bearing the initials ‘F.K.L.‘, which is now understood to mean ‘For Kieran Loveridge’, rather than ‘Free Kieran Loveridge’, as was first thought.
Loveridge, a long-time friend of Fifita’s, is currently serving a 10-year sentence for manslaughter over the 2012 killing of Thomas Kelly, who was felled by a single, savage blow to the head during a night out in King’s Cross.
After the story broke, Fifita issued a brief apology to the Kelly family, but has since made further comments, saying that he wishes he could apologise to them in person.
“I’m heartbroken to think that I could or have upset the Kelly family,” Fifita said, per a report in Fairfax overnight. “That is the last thing I want to do. I wish I could stand in front of them and say I was sorry.” He went on to say:
“Upsetting the Kelly family was never what I set out to do – they’ve been through enough. I was there in the courtroom, I know what he [Loveridge] did. I could feel the pain of the Kelly family. As a dad, I’d hate to go through that.”
“I know it was wrong and I think about the Kelly family when I think about Kieran. My support for Kieran is there because he is sitting without a glimmer of hope and I want to give him some hope. There are very few people who are going to support him and my bond with him runs deep.”
“But to say that I think he should be free is just so wrong. It upsets me that people would think that. He has to do his time because he did the wrong thing, but I can’t ignore a bloke who grew up with me as family.”
“I consider Kieran family … I know what he did, I know there is no excuse, but the way I live my life, and have always lived my life, is that you don’t turn your back on your brothers … It’s how I was brought up.”
Fifita says that he has visited Loveridge once in prison, and has been in regular phone contact him, but will respect the wishes of police, who have warned him to limit contact with the convicted killer.
Photo: Mark Kolbe / Getty.