CRONULLA Sharks have brought back the old and introduced the new for their outside backs in 2014 with the signings of former Origin star Eric Grothe jnr and Manly’s promising Jacob Gagan.
The Sharks are also expected to announce the signing of Sydney Roosters grand final winning prop Luke O’Donnell, after adding former St George Illawarra five eighth Daniel Holdsworth to their ranks from the English Super League this week.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan seemed as excited about nabbing the tall Gagan as he is about the comeback of the guitar-playing Grothe after three years out of the game.
‘‘If Eric’s off-season comeback works out OK he’ll certainly be a valuable and experienced addition to our ranks,’’ said Flanagan of Grothe, 33, who had been negotiating with Newcastle and a number of other NRL clubs. ‘‘He seems to have regained a passion for playing.’’
On Gagan, Flanagan said the youngster had ‘‘unlimited potential’’.
‘‘He is an Australian Schoolboys representative still eligible for Under 20s ... but he’s too good for that group,’’ he said of Gagan, an Eel junior, who will train with the Sharks NRL squad.
Cronulla had already signed up experienced Wests Tigers centre Blake Ayshford and youngster Paul Simona, 19, the younger brother of exciting Tim Simona, another Australian Schoolboys player.
The Sharks recently lost long-serving centre Ben Pomeroy, who rejected an offer to stay and instead signed a more lucrative deal with French club Catalan Dragons. And they released NSW Cup centre Stewart Mills.
Both the Sharks and the Roosters are in a battle to sign former Canberra centre Blake Ferguson if the NRL agrees to register a new contract for 2014.
The Sharks signed Dragons forward Matt Prior, but with the retirements of veteran props Ben Ross, Bryce Gibbs and Mark Taufua, are continuing negotiations to bring the experienced Luke O’Donnell to the club.
Meanwhile, Sharks international Luke Lewis is expected to fly back to Sydney for an operation on his shoulder, injured when he slid into an advertising sign and pole during Australia’s World Cup Group win over Fiji on Sunday.
The Kangaroos have been told that under the rules they won’t be allowed to add a new player to their squad to replace Lewis.
NEW SHARKS NRL SQUAD MEMBERS
Blake Ayshford, Jacob Gagan, Anthony Moraitis* — centres; Matt Prior, David Fifita,* Tim Robinson * — props; Tupou Sopoaga*, Sione Masima* — back row; Michael Lichaa* — hooker; Daniel Holdsworth, Fa’amanu Brown*, Jaden Clark* — halves; Valentine Holmes* — fullback
*played Sharks lower grades in 2013
Still negotiating: Luke O’Donnell
Do you think Eric Grothe jnr can make a successful comeback?