Cronulla Sharks dedicate 2020 NRL Nines campaign to young prop Fine Kula as he fights brain cancer

Ronaldo Mulitalo will wear Cronulla's No.10 jersey at the Perth Nines this weekend. Picture: Sharks
Ronaldo Mulitalo will wear Cronulla's No.10 jersey at the Perth Nines this weekend. Picture: Sharks

Cronulla will dedicate their efforts at the NRL Nines this weekend to Fine Kula, the young Sharks prop battling brain cancer.

Sharks players will wear jerseys with #FightforFine printed on the back to help raise awareness for the 21-year-old's plight.

Cronulla coach John Morris unveiled the jersey at an emotional presentation after training at Shark Park on Tuesday.

Young Sharks winger Ronaldo Mulitalo, a childhood friend of Kula, will carry the number 10 on his back in honour of Kula who wore the number in Cronulla's successful Jersey Flegg team of 2018.

Kula was training with Cronulla's full-time NRL squad prior to Christmas when he complained of severe headaches. A series of tests later revealed grade four medulloblastoma brain cancer, a type of cancer rarely found in adults with recovery rates largely unknown.

Kula announced he would retire from rugby league to direct his effort towards his recovery and beating the disease, with the news devastating his family and friends and putting a huge emotional and financial strain on his family.

Highly regarded at the club as a young player with huge potential and popular with teammates, Kula was part of Cronulla's premiership-winning Harold Matthews Cup (2015) and Jersey Flegg (2018) teams.

Morris said it had been an emotional time for his players.

"It's uncharted waters for a lot of these young men. They haven't experienced this even with family members let alone one of their close mates. There was a period there where we knew he was in a little bit of trouble but we didn't quite know the diagnosis. Then we found out in camp last week," he said.

"Obviously the boys are very upset but they've rallied around Fine and the family. We've all gone out and seen him in hospital. I think that has lifted his spirits.

"The campaign, Fight for Fine, sums it up. We're here with him every step of the way and hopefully we can do our bit to help his recovery and get him back to full health.

"I knew Ronny would be emotional when I gave him the number 10. He's been outstanding throughout all this."

Cronulla's match-worn jerseys from the NRL Nines will be signed and auctioned off. A GoFundMe page has also been set up, with the proceeds to go to Kula and his family.

The Sharks are also working with the Men of League Foundation to organise an event later in the year to provide further financial assistance towards Kula's treatment and recovery.

Morris said Cronulla would be one of the teams taking the revamped Nines tournament seriously, naming a strong squad that left for Perth on Wednesday.

"The squad I named was probably a reflection on those guys who did all the work in the pre-season. I said to them at the start that [selection in the Nines squad] should be seen as a reward. The boys like playing it, even the senior boys," he said.

"We've got some good experience there. Shaun Johnson loves the Nines, Wade Graham played for the Australian Nines [team] and then some exciting youth. So I think just looking at a couple of squads there are a few teams that are certainly taking it seriously and we'll be no different."

Cronulla take on bitter local rivals St George Illawarra in their opening pool clash at 8.45pm (AEST) on Friday night before taking on Canterbury at 3pm on Saturday afternoon, with finals to follow later on Saturday night.

Cronulla Sharks 2020 NRL Nines squad:

1. WADE GRAHAM (C) 2. BRITON NIKORA 3. JACK WILLIAMS 4. AARON WOODS 5. BLAYKE BRAILEY 6. JOSH MORRIS 7. JESSE RAMIEN 8. CHAD TOWNSEND 9. SHAUN JOHNSON 10. RONALDO MULITALO 11. WILLIAM KENNEDY 12. SIONE KATOA 13. CONNOR TRACEY 14. BILLY MAGOULIAS 15. TOBY RUDOLF 16. SCOTT SORENSEN 17. TEIG WILTON 18. BRAYDON TRINDALL

WANT MORE LOCAL NEWS?

SIGN UP FOR YOUR FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Comments