Sharks forward Toby Rudolf has rejected approaches from other NRL clubs in agreeing to a three-year contract extension with the Cronulla Club.
After sitting out the majority of the 2019 season while recovering from a knee injury, then playing all but one game in the top-grade last year, Rudolf has developed into one of the leaders of the Sharks forward pack.
Sharks fans will be thrilled with the news that Rudolf will remain at Cronulla until at least the end of the 2024 season, with his decision based around loyalty as something of a payback for the opportunities afforded him over the past few seasons.
“I’m absolutely chuffed to be honest,” Rudolf said. “This club gave me the chance to play first grade last year and before that when I was just at Redcliffe doing my best.
“To be able to repay the Club for putting faith in me, is something I’m really stoked about.”
A Souths junior, having come through their elite development system, Rudolf found himself in something of a rugby league wilderness, playing in the Queensland Cup for the Redcliffe team.
From there he was spotted by the Sharks, signed to a contact for the 2019 season, before suffering an ACL tear in his final game for the Q Cup club.
After almost 12 months of rehabilitation, Rudolf played a starring role for the Newtown Jets in their NSW Cup and National Championship victories at the back end of 2019, before earning an NRL debut in round one of the 2020 season.
Since that time Rudolf has been somewhat of an ironman of the Sharks pack, missing just one game last year when rested a week ahead of the finals, while running out for all 11 matches so far in 2021.
In rejecting advances from rival clubs, Rudolf credits a chat with incoming coach Craig Fitzgibbon as being instrumental in his decision to remain in the blue, black and white for the next three years.
“He’s a big reason as to why I wanted to stay, him talking about the culture be wanted to bring to the club, developing better men which makes better footy players, I was really on board with that,” Rudolf said.
“He seems like a very switched-on man. I’ve heard nothing but good things and I’m looking forward to working with him for the next three years.”
As was the case when announcing the Will Kennedy re-signing today, 2021 Sharks coach Josh Hannay was excited Rudolf had also agreed to remain at the Sharks
“The retention of both Will Kennedy and Toby Rudolph is fantastic news for the club,” Hannay said. “Both players have been standouts this year for us and their performances are a reflection of the work and dedication they put in over the pre-season and continue to do so day in day out.
“Both are a great example of two young men getting the best out of themselves and I have no doubt the best as yet to come for Will and Toby, with their commitment to the club showing their faith and belief in the direction that the club is heading,” he added.
The Sharks will again look to Rudolf to play a leading role when they tackle the Gold Coast Titans as they look to back up their win over the Dragons last weekend with a victory on Sunday in a match to be played in Coffs Harbour.