The winner of the Rothman’s Medal in 1988, Barry Russell was a prolific try-scorer and an attacking player of quality, with his career hampered somewhat by repeated injuries.
A Sharks junior who came through the ranks alongside the likes of Andrew Ettingshausen and Jonathan Docking, Russell would go on to become one of the best half-backs to ever wear the blue, black and white.
After debuting in the top grade in 1985 Russell underwent the first of two shoulder reconstructions at the end of that particular season, an injury which rule him out for the Sharks entire 1986 campaign.
Russell bounced back in 1987, however his best football came the following year, with his efforts rewarded by becoming the second Sharks half-back to win the prestigious Rothman’s Medal after helping to steer the club to the Grand Final qualifying match.
Such was the quality of his play in 1988 Russell claimed the prestigious individual award despite missing six games with injury, scoring 11 tries in his 19 matches played.
In emphasizing his importance to the team during the 1988 season, commenting on the fact Russell was set to return from injury for an important end-of-year finals match, Mike Lyon, Club President said; "We don't treat Barry as the be-all and end-all, but he is certainly an important part of the team."
During that year Russell shared the spotlight with Sharks Immortal Gavin Miller who was named the Dally M Medal winner.
The pair complemented each other perfectly, with Miller possessing the silky ball skills and Russell the speed and anticipation to capitalise on the opportunities his teammate created.
“Both of us winning a medal was a great thrill for the club, the Shire and for Gavin and I,” Russell said at the time. “We didn't set out to do it but winning a prestigious award has made the season better.
“It's also been a great advantage to play in a team with players like Andrew Ettingshausen and Jonathan Docking. I grew up with these guys and played juniors with them.”
Russell would go on to coach at the Sharks at a Junior Representative level and is still an interested and regular spectator at Cronulla home games in 2015
Fleet of foot and a potent attacking weapon for the Cronulla teams he played for, Barry Russell is a more-than-worthy inclusion as one of the Sharks ‘Magnificent 7s’ and without the misfortune he experienced with injury, who knows whether his career may have reached even greater heights.
First grade record at Sharks – 1985-1991
NOTE: The Men of League will unveil their ‘magnificent 7’ at a Gala Black Tie dinner to be held at Le Montage in Lillyfield in Sydney on July 16.
In all 14 former players have been nominated, with the Men of League to narrow that group down and announce the seven half-backs who they believe to be the best of all time.
Former Sharks star Brett Kimmorley is one of the 14 Magnificent 7 nominees.