NRL 2024: Braydon Trindall, Daniel Atkinson, Kade Dykes and Niwhai Puru compete to partner Nicho HynesVeteran Sharks playmaker Matt Moylan has left Cronulla for the Super League, DAVID RICCIO, reveals why the club will not just survive but thrive in his absence.
An Italian international, a former Panther and the son of a club legend will form the Sharks’ halves depth chart following the release of veteran Matt Moylan.
So says Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon, who has declared the Sharks are well prepared to cover the club’s biggest halves change-up in six years.
Moylan has made the call to farewell the NRL after 191 appearances, having been granted an immediate release from Cronulla to join English Super League club Leigh.
He spent six seasons at the Sharks, a mainstay in the halves at five-eighth.
However, coupled with the anticipated release of utility Connor Tracey, Cronulla will embark on a new era in their spine from 2024.
Dally M medal winner Nicho Hynes will spearhead the Sharks attack alongside long-time apprentice, Braydon Trindall.
Trindall’s destiny is in his own hands with the 24-year-old the frontrunner for the starting NRL position he’s been craving since arriving at Cronulla from the Storm in 2018.
From a less than ideal halves change following the demotion of Moylan in round 21 last season, Hynes and Trindall came together for the last eight games, including the elimination final loss to the Roosters.
Fitzgibbon spoke of Moylan release for the first time, while also outlining his vision for the club’s attacking arsenal.
“Matt got a really good opportunity for a longer term deal and we’re all really happy for Matt to go and explore that avenue,’’ Fitzgibbon said.
“He did a terrific job to rejuvenate his physical capabilities and get himself back to being a week-in, week-out, NRL player.
“But his departure has created an opportunity for others, including Braydon, who knows that he has the chance to make the most of a privileged opportunity.
“His application and work with Nicho over the summer will be essential for us.’’
The loss of Moylan and potentially Tracey has led to concerns over the Sharks cover in their halves should Hynes or Trindall be unavailable at any period of the 2024 season.
Fitzgibbon unveiled his halves options.
2022 Dally M medal winner
82 NRL games.
NRL Indigenous All Stars halfback
51 NRL games.
Played for Italy in 2022 World Cup
1 NRL game
On the comeback trail from a torn ACL
2 NRL games
Lured out of the prized Penrith system to the Sharks in 2023.
21 games as starting halfback for Newtown in NSW Cup last season
“Halfway through this year we re-signed Daniel Atkinson for two years,’’ Fitzgibbon said of the Italian World Cup player.
“We did that because we believe in Daniel. He’s young, developing, and he can play multiple positions.
“We love what he’s about, he’s everything we want at the Sharks, in a way that he’s committed, competitive and can seriously kick a ball.
“We got Niwhai Puru from Penrith last year and he used the NSW Cup as a vital development last season.
“Niwhai also has a lovely kicking game, he’s a halfback with talent, he’s left-footed and we’re confident he can step up in 2024.
“And we’ve also got Kade Dykes, coming back from a knee reconstruction.
“He has played NSW Cup at five-eighth for an extended period, we also know Dykesy can slot into a number of positions.
“We also re-signed Dykesy (until the end of 2025) during his rehabilitation phase, which is an indication of our belief in Kade.
“The whole point of our strategy for the last couple of years has been about developing players to be ready.
“That’s what all the guys we’ve mentioned have been doing and we’re going to see more cases in point including Kayal Iro, Sam Stonestreet, Mawene Hiroti, Kade Dykes and Jesse Colqhuoun, plus a host of others, over the next season or two.’’
NRL MARKET WATCH: SHARKS RETAIN APEX PREDATOR RUDOLF
Sharks prop Toby Rudolf has declared his plan is to finish his career at Cronulla after committing his future to the club until the end of 2026.
The hardworking prop has put to pen to paper on a new deal with his contract up for renewal at the end of 2024.
Rudolf has been a mainstay of the Cronulla forward pack since his NRL debut in 2020.
The 27-year-old has established himself as the Sharks first-choice front-rower having played 81 matches so far.
“I got here in 2019, this is now my fifth year going into my sixth and I’ve signed for two more. If you would’ve asked me at the start of my tenure if I’d be here for almost 10 years I would’ve said you were dreaming,” Rudolf said.
“It’s becoming a special place in my heart. I’ve been here for my whole NRL career and I’m going to be here for a little bit more of it. If I can finish here that’d be the icing on top. It’s a special place and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Depth test: Cronulla reveal playmaker plans