Sharks keep Hamlin-Uele in crucial NRL re-signing

Scott Bailey |

Braden Hamlin-Uele (l) rejected better offers to remain at Cronulla for another two seasons.
Braden Hamlin-Uele (l) rejected better offers to remain at Cronulla for another two seasons.

Braden Hamlin-Uele has rejected better money elsewhere to sign a two-year extension with Cronulla, admitting he couldn’t face the prospect of leaving the Sharks. 

In-demand as one of the best forwards on the market, Hamlin-Uele was tipped to leave the Sutherland Shire and take up a big-money offer at the Warriors.

The front-rower was still seriously weighing up his future as recently as last week, but ultimately couldn’t follow through with the thought of leaving Cronulla.

“I had this sort of realisation moment of having to look at the boys and tell them – if I was to leave – that I was leaving,” Hamlin-Uele said.

“I just broke down and cried and I knew just then that I’m meant to be a Cronulla Shark for as long as I can and I’m meant to be in the Shire.

“This club means everything to me, the boys mean everything to me. 

“I love them like a second family and I’m just so grateful and thankful that I can be here for another two years with them.”

Adding to Hamlin-Uele’s affinity with the Sharks is that he has been with the club since 2018, and has started a young family in Cronulla.

That helped persuade Hamlin-Uele to stay at the club, rather than return home to New Zealand for the first time since his teenage years.

The re-signing is a big win for Cronulla and coach Craig Fitzgibbon, given Hamlin-Uele will now form a front-rower partnership with Addin Fonua-Blake when the Warrior arrives next year.

“Fitzy and I are extremely happy that Braden has made the decision to remain a Shark,” Cronulla football boss Darren Mooney said. 

He’s a top-quality middle forward who always offers our team fantastic impact.

“More than that, he’s an outstanding person who has developed himself on and off the field during his time at the club. 

“He possesses terrific leadership qualities and helps set the standard for our younger players.”

Recovering from a knee injury, Hamlin-Uele is expected to miss only the opening few rounds of this season.