By Darren Walton
Sharks enforcer Andrew Fifita has revealed his desperation to "prove a point" and help revive his teams’ NRL season.
Fifita makes his return from a two-match suspension for a shoulder charge against Newcastle on Sunday and is adamant he can help the winless Sharks make the top four - and possibly win the premiership - before linking with Canterbury on a four-year deal worth more than $3.5 million.
Speaking for the first time since officially signing with the Bulldogs, the Test prop said the timing of his suspension 36 hours after telling teammates he was leaving Cronulla was gut-wrenching.
"It's killing me. It's been two long weeks, really long weeks," Fifita said on Thursday. "I thought I'd be back the next week after telling the boys and announcing where I'm going to be in 2015.
"All the boys have put it behind us, but I've been copping it left, right and centre (elsewhere). I'm just going to go out there on Sunday and do my job on the field.
“I've got a point to prove and I'm going to try to use that as motivation to get that go-forward for my players and earn the respect from the fans and the players around me."
With a young family, Fifita said he had no choice but to link with the Bulldogs on a deal that will make the 24-year-old one of the highest earners in rugby league.
"I've got to do what's best for my family. That's the best offer, so I had to take it," he said. "It's just an offer I couldn't refuse."
For now, though, Fifita is committed to helping the Sharks end their infamous 47-year title drought.
"I want to make history," he said. "We're zero and three but it's only early in the season and I've seen teams come back from losing maybe their first six games.
“I think we will turn it around. We're getting some quality players back in the next few weeks and that's going to boost our game up.
"It's kind of a bonus for us that we're getting our players back nice and fresh in about round five, round six.
"When everyone else is starting to feel tired and sore towards the back end of the season, we'll still have that freshness."
Apart from Fifita returning against the Knights, the Sharks still have Test back-rowers Paul Gallen (ankle), Luke Lewis (shoulder), Anthony Tupou (knee), fullback Nathan Gardner (shoulder), winger Beau Ryan (neck) and halfback Jeff Robson (cheekbone) to come back in the coming weeks.