Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan hinted at the end of the season that the Sharks weren’t done recruiting for the 2018 campaign.
And Flanagan appears to have got his man.
The Sharks are expected to announce the signing of Matt Moylan from Penrith on a four-year deal by the end of this week.
Moylan’s arrival will see the departure of James Maloney, Cronulla’s 2016 premiership-winning five-eighth and member of the Sharks’ team of the half century, who will join the Panthers.
The swap deal – first reported by Fairfax Media last month – ends speculation over the futures of Moylan and Maloney, who wanted out of their respective clubs for different reasons.
Moylan struggled with the captaincy and had fallen out with Penrith coach Anthony Griffin, while Maloney felt the final year of his Sharks deal didn't reflect his status as a two-time premiership-winning representative player. Both will receive large pay rises as a consequence, with Moylan's deal estimated to be $900,000 a year and Maloney's worth $800,000.
Maloney was poised to represent Australia in their World Cup clash with France at Canberra Stadium on Friday night but was forced to withdraw for personal reasons not linked to his contract saga.
Moylan's move to the shire will reunite him with former Panthers James Segeyaro and Wade Graham, while Maloney will bring much experience to a new halves pairing with promising youngster Nathan Cleary.
Another factor believed to be key for Cronulla to fight off interest in Moylan from Manly and the Wests Tigers was Moylan's relationship with childhood friend Andrew Fifita.
While the Sharks have replaced Maloney with the younger Moylan, they will still need to find a reliable goalkicker to take over from the outstanding Maloney who kicks at near 80 per cent.
The signing of NSW State of Origin representative Moylan, as well as the capture of Test centre Josh Dugan from bitter local rivals St George Illawarra, sees Cronulla in a strong position heading into 2018. The Sharks have also signed Ava Seumanufagai (Tigers), Aaron Gray (Rabbitohs), Scott Sorensen (Raiders) and Braden Uele (Cowboys).
Potential Sharks 2018 team
1 Valentine Holmes, 2 Sosaia Feki, 3 Josh Dugan, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Aaron Gray, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Luke Lewis, 12 Wade Graham, 13 Paul Gallen, 14 James Segeyaro, 15 Ava Seumanufagai, 16 Jayson Bukuya, 17 Kurt Capewell
Ins – Matt Moylan (Panthers), Josh Dugan (Dragons), Ava Seumanufagai (Tigers), Aaron Gray (Rabbitohs), Scott Sorensen (Raiders), Braden Uele (Cowboys)
Outs – Jack Bird (Broncos), Gerard Beale (Warriors), Chris Heighington (Knights), Fa'amanu Brown (Bulldogs), Daniel Mortimer (Leigh Centurions), Manaia Cherrington (Warriors), Jordan Drew (released), Jeremy Latimore (Dragons)