The fans have voted, coming up with an outstanding Sharks Team of the Decade.
The leading Sharks players from 2010 through until the currently suspended 2020 season were highlighted for their efforts in Cronulla colours during the last 10 years, then we left it to you, to come up with the best of the best in selecting a team of the decade.
Understandably, players from the Premiership winning side polled strongly, with all 13 that ran out in the starting side on that special Sunday in October of 2016 earning places in your best of Sharks side.
Many were almost unanimous in the fan poll, others held off the challenge of some of the great names of earlier in the decade, with Sharks Media then coming up with bench featuring a mixture of past and present.
Before we look into the future and what the 2020 season and beyond might bring, the Team of the Decade takes a glimpse back into some of the golden years for the Cronulla club.
Thanks for all those who voted as we present the Sharks Team of the Decade
1. Fullback - Ben Barba
With 64 per cent of the vote, one of the heroes of the premiership winning season beat out 2016 teammate Valentine Holmes and the durable and dependable Michael Gordon for the number one jersey
2. Wing - Valentine Holmes
The fans preferred Holmes as a winger in the Team of the Decade, the position be played in 2016 before making the switch to fullback the following season
3. Centre - Jack Bird
Outstanding as a five eighth in 2015, Bird made the transition to the centres in 2016 with immediate success. Was the highest polling centre in the Team of the Decade vote
4. Centre - Ricky Leutele
The 2016 season might have been his best, and ‘that tackle’ will never be forgotten, however Leutele was a mainstay of the Sharks backline almost right throughout the decade.
5. Wing - Sosaia Feki
Excellent finisher and the man often putting the team on the front foot with his physicality with ball in band coming out of trouble. Goal kicking winger Luke Covell was another to poll strongly
6. Five Eighth - James Maloney
It was almost unanimous, Maloney collecting 90 per cent of the vote as the best number six during the decade. Due to influence during 2016 it is hard to argue.
7. Half Back - Chad Townsend
The local boy who returned and helped deliver that maiden premiership continues to be the Sharks number one playmaker in 2020 and in polling similar numbers to his five eighth partner Maloney, was another worthy inclusion. Not going unrecognised in the fan vote was the reliable Jeff Robson.
8. Prop - Andrew Fifita
Earned the title as the best and perhaps most damaging big man in the NRL when in top form during 2016, 2017 and into 2018, Sharks will be looking for a fit and firing Fifita to again deliver and lead the way in 2020.
9. Hooker - Michael Ennis
Despite the Sharks having a number of quality hookers over the past 10 years, its hard to disagree with the selection of Ennis in the Team of the Decade, such was his influence. Interesting name second in polling amongst the hookers was current coach John Morris who played over 100 games for the club and 300 in the NRL in an illustrious career.
10. Prop - Matt Prior
Fifita earned most of the headlines, while Prior was equally efficient and effective in the middle of the field throughout his Sharks career. His efforts in 2016 earned Prior joint player of the year honours with his front rower partner. Ben Ross and Luke Douglas were others to gain fan poll support.
11. Second Row - Luke Lewis
Only a point or two behind Graham in the polling, 2016 probably doesn't happen with out the input of Lewis in the back row. A great servant of the game and of the Sharks during a long and celebrated career.
12. Second Row - Wade Graham
The current Sharks skipper has celebrated the good times and endured the challenging periods in nine seasons at the Club. The highest polling second rower, Graham will lead the Sharks into the latest era after taking over as Club captain in 2020
13. Lock - Paul Gallen
While the calibre of some of those to have played lock for the Sharks over the past decade is of highest quality, if the truth be known they probably only played the position when Gallen was missing due to injury, suspension or on rep duty. With 94 per cent of the vote, the highest for any position in the poll, the fans also overwhelmingly recognised Gallen’s contribution to the Club during a 19-year career.
14. Jayson Bukuya
The final piece of the puzzle was the interchange and selected by the fan vote of the highest polling amongst the utilities, Bukuya was recognised for his durability and versatility. A player who could do whatever job required, Bukuya does it to an extremely high standard.
15. Kurt Capewell
As the second highest to poll in the utilities category, Capewell played everywhere from his preferred position of back row, through to fullback. He even played some minutes at hooker in a time of need. Fits into the 17 as the perfect utility to cover a range of positions
16. Ben Ross
Feeling the team needed another ‘big man’ on the bench, we’ve gone for Ben Ross as the third-highest polling front rower. Would be the perfect man to throw into the game when Fifita or Prior needed a breather
17. John Morris
When looking through the utilities, Morris polled fourth behind Bukuya, Capewell and Chris Heighington, however his versatility won out. Throughout his 300-game NRL career was equally adept at hooker or in the halves, could even do lock if need be and would be the ideal man to cover for any injuries or mishaps amongst the starting players.