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CEO Update - August 2021

From CEO Dino Mezzatesta, an August 2021 update for Sharks members and fans.

Dear Members,
Welcome to the CEO update for August, where we endured another full month in lockdown, with September looking much the same.

Our team remains in a Queensland bubble after all interstate teams relocated in July, with the remaining matches, including the Finals series, now appearing likely to be held north of the NSW border. 

Despite the challenges, we have one round to play and the Sharks are in a position to qualify for the Finals for what would be a seventh consecutive year. From afar we congratulate Josh Hannay, his staff and the players for their commitment under the trying circumstances and we wish them the best for the last round when they play the Storm on Friday. 

The doors at Sharks at Kareela remain closed, but we can report the car park upgrade is complete and ready for your return, while golf is booming as one of the few activities we are able to enjoy during the restrictions the state of NSW is operating under. 

Community sport has also been a casualty of the lockdown environment, with junior league and the various senior competitions cancelled for 2021. We can only hope and look forward to some normality next season. 

Something else we can look forward to is our return to PointsBet Stadium in 2022. It is exciting news and I encourage our members and fans to stay tuned to our communications and to secure a membership for the 2022 season. 

While another difficult month for all, we hope you are staying safe and healthy and we thank you for your interest in this latest update as we endeavour to keep you informed as to all the latest happenings at the Sharks. 

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 remains closed, at this stage until the end of September.

While your Sharks at Kareela licensed club remains closed, with golf considered exercise, the Kareela course remains open, has been extremely busy and we thank those who have been playing for your patronage. We are coming up to one year since PGA professional Scott Lennox took over the golf operations from Sporties and we continue to work together to provide an enjoyable golfing experience.

You will have noticed some on-course works that have taken place over the last 12 months and further upgrades are planned. 

Please continue to utilise the facilities and enjoy your golf at Kareela Golf Club. For golfing enquiries, contact the Pro-shop on 9521 6279 or email [email protected] to book a tee time. 

We are pleased to say the works on the car are now complete and the finished product certainly looks great, with a re-surface, new line marking and lighting now in place. 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, as per the previous lockdown and club closure periods, if it is due for renewal, you can do so online by visiting our website - CLICK HERE

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

If your birthday was while we were closed, sorry we couldn’t celebrate it with you at Sharks at Kareela however the good news is the points on your cards and member benefits will be waiting to be redeemed as soon as we re-open.

And continue to keep an eye on the Wednesday ‘virtual’ raffles. We have given away more than $7,500 in prizes during August, to more than 60 winners, and there will be more to come. 

Woolooware Bay Development Update
As the development team continues to grapple with the NSW government enforced construction site closures and reopening procedures, project numbers continue to grow day by day and so too the progress on the ground.

Over the next three months the team will be continuing to progress the structure with intentions of having the entire ground floor concrete poured and completed.

These concrete pours will allow the project to emerge from the ground and soon rise over the site fences as scaffolding is erected to commence the structure on levels 1 and 2.

From a Leagues Club point of view, the new 1800m2 deck will be poured within the next month, representing a great milestone for the project. 

Community
Unfortunately during the past month the NSWRL and Cronulla-Sutherland DJRL have announced the forced cancellation of the competitions under their control. This included all junior league and extended to the NSW Cup, Jersey Flegg and Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership competitions. 

However, despite the obvious disappointment to all concerned, there was still a number of things to celebrate for the Cronulla-Sutherland Junior League this year.

Even considering the challenges faced, the CSDJRL reported their highest ever participation numbers - 5443 - which represented an 11 per cent increase on 2019 pre-covid numbers and almost 2000 extra players since 2015.

This placed our local junior league second in the state in terms of the number of participants, behind only Penrith and above traditional junior league strongholds of Parramatta, the Central Coast and Illawarra.

We also boasted the largest female participation in the state with over 1600 playing in local competitions and from a commercial standpoint, we were thrilled our NRL front of jersey partner Aramex and back of jersey partner Zambrero acknowledged the importance of grass roots sport and both became sponsors of the junior league.

In other matters, Ronaldo Mulitalo, our nomination for the 2021 Ken Stephen Medal, again displayed his class and community spirit with his emotional thank you and farewell to the crowd in Rockhampton recently, despite suffering a shocking facial injury during the match.

It was an easy decision to nominate Ronaldo for the prestigious NRL award given his commitment, involvement and dedication to Sharks Have Heart programs and associated charities and we wish him luck, with the Ken Stephen Medal winner to be announced at the Dally M Awards night.

The past month we were also able to celebrate Sharks Have Heart and the important part they play in connecting our club to the community, with the players wearing a specially-designed charity jersey in the game against the Knights. 

Thank you to those who made a bid through the subsequent auction and especially to those who were successful bidders and now own a match-worn Sharks Have Heart jersey. All monies raised go towards Sharks Have Heart and the wonderful programs and initiatives they support. 

Go to the Sharks Have Heart website - CLICK HERE - to read about the great work they do, to subscribe to their newsletter or to make a donation which allows us to continue to make a difference in the community.

Commercial
Again, we must thank our corporate partners for the support we continue to receive through the current challenges and it has been pleasing that there has been opportunity to accommodate some of our sponsors at recent games in Queensland.

With crowds retuning in Queensland, in Rockhampton, Redcliffe and last weekend at Suncorp, some of our valued partners have attended, entertained clients and enjoyed a game day experience in support of our team. We look forward to providing opportunity for more of our sponsors and partners at CBus this weekend when we play the Storm and hope they can cheer us to victory and to a place in the Finals. 

During the past few weeks we have also been able to continue our Aramex Special Delivery promotion, with Shaun Johnson, Wade Graham, then Paul Gallen connecting via zoom with some of our lucky members in continuing our popular game day activation. 

As for corporate hospitality enquiries for 2022, we are currently accepting expressions of interest (contact John Day - [email protected]) and will release packages in the coming months in line with 2022 memberships. 

Finally from a commercial point of view, I will continue to encourage Sharks members and fans to where possible support our sponsors and 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 their various websites and contact information, go to the following link at - https://www.sharks.com.au/about/sponsors/

Membership
The not-so-well-kept secret is out as we recently announced our return to PointsBet Stadium for the 2022 season. Much work went on behind the scenes to make sure the stadium would be compliant and the game day experience as enjoyable as possible and we believe we have achieved both of those objectives.

We hope you are as excited about coming ‘home’ in 2022 as we are. 

With that being the case, we will soon roll out memberships for next season and with the performances of our team against the odds this year, coupled with the anticipation around incoming coach Craig Fitzgibbon and new recruits Nicho Hynes, Dale Finucane and Cam McInnes, complementing the young stars we have returning, and there is plenty to look forward to. 

All information regarding memberships are on our website (CLICK HERE), including links for first time or returning members to register expressions of interest and with answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQ  - CLICK HERE). 

We will communicate on-sale dates and information on 2022 memberships in the coming weeks. So please make sure to update your member details (CLICK HERE) or to register your interest today. 

Merchandise
Unfortunately, as with all retail operations throughout NSW, the Covid lockdown situation means our Sharks Store at Kareela remains closed. 

That doesn’t mean there isn't opportunity to purchase Sharks merchandise. Our Father’s Day and Lockdown sale’s continue, with between 25% and 50% off all stock (excluding 2021 Aramex NRL jerseys).

Go to the Sharks Store - CLICK HERE - to make an order now and be ‘geared up’ for the 2022 season. 

Football
Certainly an interesting month from a football perspective as our NRL team prepares for a game this weekend against the Melbourne Storm where a victory will likely see us qualify for a seventh consecutive Finals appearance. 

Despite our team being low on experience due to injuries, they continue to fight hard in putting themselves in contention to continue their season into the semi finals. 

The month of August saw the positive of the club securing the services of Steve Price, an integral part of our coaching group in our premiership-winning year in 2016, as an NRL Assistant in 2022 in adding to a very formidable coaching team. We also had the disappointing injury news surrounding Andrew Fifita and Ronaldo Mulitalo. 

Andrew’s situation was very serious and extremely scary for his family and teammates, as he spent a few days in an induced coma as medical staff treated his fractured larynx. Thankfully, his surgery was a success, Andrew is up and about supporting his teammates in the final weeks of the season and he appears headed for a full recovery. We thank our many members and fans who sent messages and well wishes during his stay in hospital, both Andrew and his wife Nikita are very thankful for the support.

As for Ronaldo, his play was at an exceptional level before he copped an accidental elbow attempting a tackle during our win over the Tigers in Rockhampton, with a fractured jaw the unfortunate result. He showed his class immediately after the game in thanking the crowd, then gifting his boots to a young fan, but his disappointment and distress was evident. 

Like Andrew, his surgery was successful, he is back around the playing group and his energy and enthusiasm will be infectious over the next few weeks as he encourages his teammates in the big games ahead. 

We also farewelled Shaun Johnson during August, as he opted to head home to New Zealand in an effort to beat the border closure issues. In our July update we still weren't sure about Shaun’s playing status, however the subsequent diagnosis was his hamstring injury was season-ending, we didn't want to stand in his way following his request for an early release to return home and we must thank Shaun for his contribution to our club during the last three seasons. 

Shaun was a popular teammate, and a fan favourite. He will be missed on and off the field and he leaves with our best wishes for the next chapter in his career at the Warriors next season. 

In touching on a few more of our injured brigade, the likes of Wade Graham, Cam McInnes, Franklin Pele and Jackson Ferris, due to various injury issues have remained in Sydney but they definitely haven't remained idle. All are recovering well and training strongly in looking ahead to the 2022 season. 

But further on Wade, our club Captain has been heavily involved in promoting the NRL’s vaccination campaign, something we wholeheartedly support as we all look forward to returning to some sort of normalilty post this Covid pandemic.  

While finally from a football perspective, we were extremely disappointed in the actions of Josh Dugan who breached the NRL’s Apollo protocols when stopped by police near Lithgow. 

The NRL has imposed a fine, while Josh has indicated his intention to challenge the charges handed down by NSW Police for an alleged Covid breach. Josh will also front our disciplinary committee and we will communicate any further developments once finalised and more information is available. 

In closing
Please continue your support of the Sharks from wherever you are, whether that is from our Queensland fans at the grounds, to our members back here in Sydney, in NSW and in regional areas. The players certainly feel and appreciate that support as they look to finish the 2021 season in a high note. 

We will continue to do our best to update you our members in these uncertain times and we encourage you to check out the membership options when they become available over the next few months. We are excited to be coming ‘home’ next year and hope you share in that excitement. 

And as soon as is allowed Sharks at Kareela will welcome you back, where you can again enjoy the company of your fellow Sharks members and our high standard of service. 

So please bear with us during the Lockdown, thanks again for your support and most importantly we wish you good health.