Following a strong off-season on the training paddock and eye-catching trial form over the past two weeks, former Raiders prop Royce Hunt has signed a one-year contract to complete the Sharks NRL roster ahead of the 2020 season.
Hunt, who has been in the Raiders system since 2017 and debuted in the NRL for Canberra that same year, has been a part of the Sharks full-time training group since November.
He joins Mawene Hiroti as a top 30 contracted player and Siosifa Talakai who has signed a Development contract, in the Sharks fulltime group for 2020.
After playing for Souths last year Hiroti has also earned his spot at the Sharks following an impressive pre-season, while Talakai, after excelling for the Newtown Jets in their dual premiership success of 2019, will train on as a development player with the potential to join the top-30 squad at a later date.
At 110kgs and standing 185cms, the 24-year-old Hunt carries the ball strongly, has a clever off-load in his game and if his trial form is anything to go by, he could become an extremely valuable acquisition for John Morris and his Cronulla team in the weeks and months ahead.
The Sharks coach explained that Hunt’s hard work over the past four months had provided him with this chance to be a part of the teams NRL campaign this year.
“He reminds me a bit of Braden Uele in that he runs hard, breaks tackles and has an ability to promote the football,” Morris said. “Royce was in the Raiders top 30 and is a player who we watched closely throughout the year at Mounties.
“He had to show us something to earn a contract and with his hard work during the summer and after solid performances in both PNG and against Manly, he did just that.”
As for Hiroti, a lower leg issue limited his training somewhat after Christmas, however he showed glimpses of his ability at Netstrata Jubilee on Sunday night in an encouraging display in what was his first hit out in Sharks colours.
Hiroti played four top grade games on the wing for the Rabbitohs last season, made the NSWRL Canterbury Cup Team of the Year in 2019 and is an accomplished goal kicker.
In relation to Talakai, the stocky back rower was a standout for the Jets in their charge to the Canterbury Cup and State Championship titles last year, while his training commitment has been faultless since coming to the club on a train and trial basis late last year.
Talakai has also impressed in the last two trial matches. As a development players he will continue to train full-time with the Sharks NRL squad.
Born: August 13, 1995, Liverpool NSW
Junior Club: Willagee Bears, WA
Previous Clubs: Raiders (2017-2019)
NRL Debut: Raiders v Penrith, Carrington Park, Bathurst, 10/6/2017 (rnd 14)
Born: March 6, 1999, Taranaki, NZ
Junior Club: Western Suburbs Tigers
Height: 191cm Weight: 98kgs
Previous Clubs: Souths (2018-2019)
Reo Honours: NSW Residents (2018), Junior Kiwis (2018), NZ Under-18’s (2017), Australian Schoolboys (2016)
First Grade debut: Souths v Brisbane, ANZ Stadium, 16/08/2018 (Rnd 23)
Born: April 18, 1997, Sydney, NSW
Junior Club: Mascot Jets
Position: Second row
Previous Clubs: Souths (2017-2018)
Rep Honours: Junior Kiwis (2016-17)
NRL debut: Souths v Gold Coast, nib Stadium, Perth, 5/6/2016 (rnd13)