Cronulla fans have finally been given some good news with Wade Graham re-signing with the club until the end of the 2022 season.
The NSW and Australia representative was elevated to co-captain at the club at the start of last season and is expected to take over the captaincy of the Sharks when legendary skipper Paul Gallen eventually retires.
Graham extended his contract with Cronulla for a further three seasons, with the deal to take the premiership-winning back-rowers’ stay at the Sharks well past a decade.
Graham joined the Sharks from Penrith in 2011, then as a 20-year-old five-eighth.
He has since gone on to play 177 times in the black, white and blue including the 2016 grand final win over Melbourne.
Graham suffered an injury-plagued 2018 season which culminated in a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during Cronulla’s finals loss to eventual premiers the Roosters in September.
Graham is expected to be back on the field for the Sharks before the midway point of the 2019 season and is continuing his rehabilitation.
"I have tremendous belief in the club and in our playing group and I'm looking forward to the next four years and to the next chapter of my career," he said.
Graham’s return can’t come soon enough for a Cronulla side that has suffered a tumultuous off-season.
Valentine Holmes, the NRL’s next superstar and the player the Sharks had hoped to build their club around for the next decade, rejected the largest ever contract offered by the club to chase a career in the NFL after obtaining a release from the final year of his Sharks deal.
Coach Shane Flanagan was deregistered and the Sharks were fined $800,000 by the NRL last month after the governing body found he had breached the terms of his 12-month suspension in 2014 with his communications with the club that year.
John Morris, who was an assistant coach under Flanagan, has since been named interim coach while Flanagan prepares a response to the claims against him. Flanagan has until the end of January to lodge his submission.
Then, two days after Flanagan’s indefinite suspension, Sharks players were allegedly involved in an incident that led to the club’s entire squad being banned from Cronulla Sailing Club.
The blacklisting comes after an altercation on the night of December 21 in which a series of scuffles are understood to have broken out across the venue involving lower-grade players, prompting police to be called.
The Sharks have been investigating the incident since before Christmas and are yet to determine whether to begin disciplinary proceedings with any players.
The club is also awaiting the outcome of an NRL salary cap investigation into the Sharks after Sharks CEO Barry Russell last year reported to head office potential breaches of the rules involving third-party deals.