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CEO Update - July 2021

From CEO Dino Mezzatesta, a July 2021 update for Sharks members and fans.

Dear Members,
Welcome to the CEO update for July following what has been a difficult month as a result of the most recent COVID outbreak affecting much of the east coast, but most significantly NSW and the greater Sydney area. 

As you are no doubt aware our team has relocated to Queensland alongside all Sydney Clubs, as well as the Raiders, Knights and Storm, as the NRL endeavours to continue the competition despite the associated challenges. Back here at home we are working hard to keep the business running to as close to normal as is possible.

On the football front, we had mixed results on the field with two wins and two losses in July, however heading into round 20 we were in seventh on the ladder and in a position to push for a seventh consecutive finals series appearance.

Unfortunately, Sharks at Kareela remains closed due to the lockdown conditions in Sydney, which have now been extended until 28 August and COVID has also had an impact on community sport, which has seen the postponement of the Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, Jersey Flegg and junior league around the Shire. Our Sharks Women also saw their season prematurely ended by the competition shutdown.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update, where we endeavour to keep you up to speed with all the latest happenings here at the Sharks.

While a difficult month for all, we hope you are staying safe and like everybody at the Sharks, we look forward to normality returning sooner rather than later.

Sharks at Kareela
As per the NSW Government directive and lockdown orders, in an effort to protect the people of NSW from the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, Sharks at Kareela remained closed July and will continue to be closed throughout the month of August.

Despite the club being closed, with golf considered exercise, the Kareela course remains open. Pre-booking is required, so for all golfing enquiries, please contact the Pro-shop on 9521 6279 or email [email protected] to secure a tee time. 

We are pleased to say the works on the car park began, however unfortunately we were forced to delay the works half-way through the project due to the construction industry shut down. Indications are that we will be permitted to resume and complete the car park project in early August and we all look forward to the finished product. We have no doubt it will enhance your experience when next visiting Sharks at Kareela.

In relation to your Sharks at Kareela or Sharks Leagues Club membership, if it is due for renewal during the period of the club closure, you can do so online by visiting our website - CLICK HERE to renew. 

Alternatively, drop in and see our reception staff when the club re-opens.

For however long the shutdown remains we will ensure that your membership is extended for the same period and the team will communicate regularly with our members on updates as they become available.

If your birthday was in July, sorry we weren’t able to celebrate it with you at the club. The good news is the points on your cards and member benefits will be waiting for you to be redeemed as soon as we re-open.

Woolooware Bay Development 
As we shared last month the works on site were going well and as planned and even when the lockdown was first announced back on June 26, the construction continued and there was no impairment to the site.

Unfortunately, the most recent tightening of restrictions resulted in the NSW Government putting a hold on all construction work for a period through until the end of July.

With the unplanned stoppage our developer partners, Aoyuan International/Capital Corporation, will endeavour to make up time however it is an unfortunate situation and turn of events that have put not only our development partner in a difficult situation but also the entire sector. 

In communications from Woolooware Bay, Project Director Matt Crews explained; “The safety of our workers will always remain paramount. Our industry already has some of the most robust health and safety protocols including those required to deal with protection from the spread of Covid. The delivery team will work towards mitigating the effect of the construction pause over the next 18 months.

“The residential sales take up remain strong with a small but great selection of 1 bed and 3 bed apartments still available. Anyone interested should go to the website where more information has been uploaded to assist with sale.

“The Bay Central shopping centre has also had consistent take up with a number of new restaurants about to be signed up in our new waterfront dining precinct.”

So whilst it may seem like we have another setback to deal with, our development partner is keen to get back on track as soon as its safely possible to continue with the construction. Again, we will keep you informed on progress on a regular basis.

The Sharks Heave Heart charity jersey and round was scheduled for Round 17, but unfortunately as a result of the Sharks having to play the Warriors with no crowds, the decision was made to move this themed round to later in the year. The team will now wear the specially designed charity jersey in round 22 against the Knights, at a venue that has yet to be determined.

Rather than all Sharks Have Heart programs being put on hold, the team are currently implementing ways to engage with the community as we did in 2020. These means are predominantly online and once restrictions ease in Queensland, we will also have our NRL players engage the community locally in collaboration with our charity partners, notably Deadly Choices who are based in Brisbane.

Coming up in Round 21, the NRL squad will be wearing the Men of League (MOL) socks in support of the foundation, with 13 out of the 16 NRL clubs signed up to support MOL who in turn support those involved with Rugby League who have encountered hardship.

Sharks Have Heart has also supported charity partner One Meal - Sutherland Shire, during the COVID lock down.

A not-for-profit organisation that helps to feed, clothe and support the homeless, vulnerable and at-risk members of our local communities, One Meal enlists the assistance of local organisations in providing their extremely important service.

One such local organisation to lend a hand was Sharks at Kareela and their popular in-house restaurant The Cove Bar and Grill. Despite both currently being shut down due to the COVID restrictions, in an initiative inspired by Sharks Have Heart, complimentary meals were provided to One Meal over a number of weeks in an effort to ease the burden on those doing it tough. Thank you to all involved for supporting our community during these difficult times.

Finally, we encourage you to vote for Ronaldo Mulitalo our nominee for the Ken Stephen Medal, the NRL’s prestigious community award. Ronaldo excites us with his deeds on the field, but more significantly we are immensely proud of his work off it and he thoroughly deserves the recognition this award would provide. CLICK HERE to vote.

Again, we must thank our corporate partners for the support we continue to receive through the current challenges.

We are extremely proud of the group of partners we have been able to assemble and look forward to better times ahead for all concerned.

In relation to our partners, thanks to Club Captain Wade Graham and Coach Josh Hannay who gave up their time to take part in an exclusive zoom meeting. Wade and Josh offered an update to sponsors on all matters football related, which was certainly well received.

As I encouraged Sharks members and fans in the June CEO Update, please where possible support those who support us, in particular our major partners including Aramex, Zambrero, Dynasty, PointsBet, Carlton United Breweries, TFH, Southern Comfort, Woolooware Bay, Stewart Toyota, Madimack and SFD.

For more on our sponsors and corporate partners, and to access websites and contact information, go to the following link - CLICK HERE  

As for the remainder of the 2021 season, we continue to work out of our Sydney base to deliver a Sharks ‘home game’ experience, beginning with the game in Redcliffe this week.

Stadium and LED signage, big screen activations and ground announcements at our remaining games will hopefully make the venues feel like a Sharks ‘home away from home’ as we aim to deliver as much sponsor value as possible under the circumstances.

While in terms of corporate hospitality, there will be limited opportunity, reliant on facilities available, at our remaining ‘home’ matches. We stress the opportunities are limited around venue facilities, so please contact John Day ([email protected]) if interested and in a position to take up some of what may be available.

As you will be aware, it is becoming increasingly likely games will remain in Queensland for the remainder of the season, with changes taking place daily around NRL venues, game scheduling and the COVID restrictions. That being the case, we currently are working towards a plan and will communicate the outcomes once we have some certainty around what the final rounds of this year's competition will look like.

Ben Ross and his Membership team are working through the challenges in relation to 2021 memberships, however with changes taking place daily around NRL Covid restrictions, game scheduling and venues, it is making it difficult to finalise and communicate that outcome to our valued members.

As with our hospitality partners, we are currently working towards a plan around memberships for the remainder of the season so please remain patient and keep checking emails and our Sharks media channels. Once we have some certainty around what the final rounds of this year's competition will look like we will communicate outcomes to our members.

 On behalf of Ben and his team I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your loyalty and for sticking with the Sharks in what are difficult and unpredictable times.

The lockdown sale continues with between 25 and 50% off all stock (excluding 2021 Aramex NRL jerseys).

Obviously with the store closed due to the restrictions and reduced staffing hours, we are taking on-line orders only and will ship your Sharks merchandise as soon as possible. CLICK HERE to visit the Sharks Store On-line 

The NRL playing squad and staff have now been in the Queensland bubble for a little over two weeks in less-than-ideal circumstances. Led by Coach Josh Hannay and our General Manager of Football Darren Mooney, the group is making the best of the situation and while there has been no official confirmation as yet, they seem destined to stay and play in Queensland for the foreseeable future.

During the past month the form of our team has been a little up and down, with losses to the Broncos and Raiders, opposed to wins against the Warriors and Bulldogs. We now head into a very important period of the season, one which is likely to determine our Finals destiny.

Also during July, we were able to announce a couple of significant signings, with Matt Moylan extending his time with the Sharks into the 2022 season and Storm and NSW star Dale Finucane agreeing to join us on a four-year contract.

Dale has played in six Grand Finals, represented NSW at an Origin level and in beating off a number of other clubs interested in securing his services, he will be a wonderful addition to our team from next year.

It is certainly worth also acknowledging that Josh Hannay has agreed to remain at the Club to work alongside incoming coach Craig Fitzgibbon as his Assistant in 2022. Josh has done an outstanding job as interim head coach this year and I have no doubt him and Craig will form an extremely strong coaching partnership next season.

There were also some recent disappointments, the injury to Shaun Johnson being one of them. Scans and assessment of the injury has sadly revealed a recovery period of around three months, meaning Shaun appears to have played his last game in the black, white and blue. No doubt this isn't the way Shaun would have liked to end his time at the Sharks and we thank him for his contribution over three seasons at our Club. He was a fan favourite, will forever be in our history books as the inaugural winner of the Porter-Gallen Medal as our player of the year and he leaves us with some wonderful memories. Shaun has commenced his rehab in the Sharks Brisbane hub and we wish him a speedy recovery before his return to the Warriors next year. 

Finally in relation to the NSW Cup and Jersey Flegg competitions, at this point there is nothing new to update or report. Both competitions have been shut down as we await instruction from the NSWRL as to if and when they may be able to recommence.

Harvey Norman Women’s Sharks
It would have been remiss of me not to devote some space in this report to the Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership Sharks.

It was a heartbreaking finish to their season when they were informed only the first and second placed teams would contest a Grand Final, with the third placed Sharks eliminated without a ball being kicked in their scheduled Finals match.

The COVID restrictions at this stage have also seen the competition decider postponed, but despite the disappointing outcome to the season, we must congratulate the Sharks women on an excellent year.

Winning nine games and losing just twice, with a positive points differential of 336, the second loss coming when they were missing their five NSW Origin reps, is an indication of their high level of play throughout 2021.

We acknowledged them last month, but again congratulations to the five Sharks players who were selected to play for NSW in the State of Origin game, and also to two young Sharks in Andie Robinson and Tegan Dymock who played their part in the NSW victory over Queensland in the under-19s match.

Thanks goes to Tony Herman and his coaching staff for doing a great job this year and a massive thanks to the Sharks Harvey Norman Women’s and Tarsha Gale sponsors.

To Women’s program sponsors EISS Super, Gecko Projects, Fibrous Design, Minespec Parts, Ray White Sutherland and Jumbuck Meats, thank you, we certainly appreciate the support you provided to both our women's teams in 2021.

In closing
Finally, we will continue to do our best to update you our members in these uncertain times.

We also hope to be able to open the doors at Sharks at Kareela sometime soon for you to enjoy the company of your fellow Sharks members, the high standard of service provided by our dedicated staff and the facilities offered at our second Sharks 'home' in the Sutherland Shire.

So please bear with us during the next few weeks as we work our way through this current COVID situation.

Thanks again for your support, but most importantly we wish you good health and please stay safe.