Cronulla have received a much-needed boost with the re-signing of stand-in skipper Wade Graham for another three NRL seasons.
Graham’s contract was due to expire this year but on Monday announced his commitment to the club until at least the end of 2017.
The 23-year-old reportedly knocked back a deal from South Sydney to accept the new deal, stalling the Rabbitohs’ desperate search to replace rugby union-bound Sam Burgess.
Graham, who moved from Penrith in 2011, believes the Sharks – currently last on the NRL ladder – were heading in the right direction.
“I’ve been here for four years now, I feel at home in Cronulla and I’m close to the playing group,” he said in a statement. “I see it as a club moving forward and I want to be a part of that.
“We’ve had a tough start to the season this year but with players at the club like Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Todd Carney, as well as some of the good kids we have coming through the 20s, we can bounce back this year and be serious contenders over the next couple of years.”
Cronulla chief executive Steve Noyce said Graham, who scored his side’s only try in Sunday’s 24-4 loss to Manly at Brookvale Oval, formed an important part of the club’s future.
“For a young man Wade shows great character, leadership and maturity beyond his years and his signing is a significant one for the Sharks,” Noyce said.
“He is the sort of player we can build a team around and we are thrilled he has decided to stay with us for the next three years.”