Sharks seek to add bite to NRL pack with point to prove

George Clarke |

Braden Hamlin-Uele is hoping a “gritty” Cronulla can challenge for another NRL premiership in 2024.
Braden Hamlin-Uele is hoping a “gritty” Cronulla can challenge for another NRL premiership in 2024.

Written off after two seasons without a finals win, Cronulla prop Braden Hamlin-Uele is vowing that the Sharks will add the hardened edge that turns them into an NRL premiership threat in 2024.

Cronulla have finished in the top eight for the last two years under Craig Fitzgibbon, but have tasted defeat in every finals game.

Seeking to buck that trend, Fitzgibbon pulled off a coup in December by persuading Addin Fonua-Blake to leave the Warriors and join his club at the end of the 2024 season.

But for now Hamlin-Uele, who has been linked with a move in the opposite direction, wants to prove that the Sharks have the ability to match it with the NRL’s best.

James Tedesco and Braden Hamlin-Uele.
Roosters fullback James Tedesco attempts to tackle rampaging Sharks forward Braden Hamlin-Uele. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Comparisons are always made to the 2016 side that won the club’s sole premiership, but Hamlin-Uele is hoping the hallmark of this year’s team be that they are a side which outlasts every opponent.

“We have that grit, but our grit is different to what that (2016 side) was,” told AAP.

“Their grit was a pure physicality, they would just punch you in the face.

“But we want to have a prolonged grit and people will look at Penrith as the benchmark and it’s hard not to look at what they do.

“Their grit is prolonged for the whole game … there’s a difference between physicality and that grit for 80 minutes and that’s the balance we want to find and I believe we’ve got a great crew to do that here.”

Hamlin-Uele has sworn off alcohol after missing big chunks of last season with injury.

The front-rower says Cronulla lacked cohesion in the middle with co-captain Dale Finucane and fellow prop Toby Rudolf absent throughout the year.

But the silver lining, Hamlin-Uele believes, is that the Sharks’ playing stocks are now deeper and better equipped to handle setbacks compared to years gone by

“Injuries are inevitable but it’s about how we deal with them,” he said.

“And last year we showed that we could create depth; Tom Hazleton really kicked on and became a cult hero and Jack Williams had a great season.

“Those are guys in our team that don’t get a lot of light shined on them, but they are becoming great players for us.”