Sharks pack carry chip as Hamlin-Uele mulls future

Scott Bailey |

Braden Hamlin-Uele says the Sharks’ pack is under valued and want to prove their critics wrong.
Braden Hamlin-Uele says the Sharks’ pack is under valued and want to prove their critics wrong.

Prop Braden Hamlin-Uele says the Sharks’ pack feel disrepected heading into the 2024 season, while contemplating his own future at Cronulla.

Of-contract at the end of this year, the Kiwi forward is weighing up a return to New Zealand with the Warriors after leaving home to pursue an NRL career as a teenager.

The Warriors view Hamlin-Uele as a replacement for Sharks-bound Addin Fonua-Blake and are rumoured to have offered the 29-year-old more than $700,000 a year.

But also on the forward’s mind is Cronulla has been home to him for the past six years, with his young family growing up in the area.

“Hopefully (it’s done) ASAP,” Hamlin-Uele said on Tuesday.

“I’m in regular contact with my manager to see what the go is. That’s his side of the business, I’m just here to run the ball and tackle.

“If it comes to it, it’d be devastating to leave (Cronulla). But it would also be exciting to see what’s on the other side.”

While his future is yet to be decided, Hamlin-Uele is adamant the Sharks have a pack that is ready to strike.

Fonua-Blake is viewed by many critics as the missing piece of the puzzle in Cronulla, providing the muscle and power the Sharks need in the middle.

But while the Sharks know the weapon they are acquiring in the 123kg Fonua-Blake, the pack is adamant they already have what’s required to push for a premiership.

“Everyone can have their own opinion, they can say what they want to say. We’ll just let our actions do all the talking,” Hamlin-Uele said.

“I think our pack is going to go to another level.

“There’s boys that have a chip on their shoulder about feeling like we’re getting disrespected a bit around. But we’ll let people do their thing.

“We trust every single person in our squad, top to bottom. We’re not waiting for anyone to come, we’re not waiting for anyone to leave.

“We’re going to go about our business and do our job.”

Fellow prop Toby Rudolf is also adamant the Sharks’ pack have the capabilities to push for a premiership, after bowing out in the finals for the past two years.

“There are some weeks our pack will run over another one, and there’s some weeks that we get punched in the face and we can’t recover,” Rudolf said.

“Don’t get me wrong, Addin: what a signing.

“But I think we have the personnel to go all the way. We’ve had that the last two years.

“But we haven’t found that level where we can minimise the gap between our best and our worst performance.

“If we can maintain that level and start to put some consistent form together week to week, then we’ll shake up the comp.”

AAP