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Young Goulburn product Tom Hazelton, who debuted in the NRL earlier this year and has impressed with his attitude and ability, has signed a two-year contract extension with the Cronulla club, one which will see him elevated into the Sharks top-30 from 2023.  

An imposing figure, standing some 198cm tall and weighing in excess 115kgs, Hazelton won a place in the Sharks under-20’s after being successful at an open trial at the end of 2017, played through a couple of years of Jersey Flegg, before enduring two frustrating NSW Cup seasons due to the Covid interruptions.

After working hard and persevering, Hazelton has since gone on to earn an NRL debut and has now been rewarded with the new contract, tying him to the Sharks through until at least the end of the 2024 season.

“I’ve been here for five years now. It’s been a bit bumpy at times with a few injuries and Covid but it’s exciting to be a part of it here at the Sharks for the next few years,” Hazleton said.  

“It was tough at times, you didn’t think opportunities like his would come about, back-to-back years of not knowing what was going to happen,” he said in referencing the Covid cancellations affecting the lower-tier competitions.

“But it helped in a way. A few figured it might not be for them, then myself and a few others stuck through it and are now reaping the rewards,” Hazelton added.

Having earned his promotion into the Sharks top squad for next season, Hazelton was quick to acknowledge the assistance of coach Craig Fitzgibbon during the most recent part of his footballing journey.  

“He’s (Fitzgibbon) been super helpful for me. At the start of pre-season he hadn’t even seen me play footy, but he’s helped me a lot along the way, little ways to improve my game and even outside of footy as well,” he said.  

“He’s all about being a good person as much as being a good player and I’ve also taken that on board.”

Some six weeks ago the late withdrawal of Sharks skipper Wade Graham due to a foot injury presented the chance for the 23-year-old to join the 17-man NRL squad for the round 12 Roosters match, where Hazelton became Shark #552.

Ahead of that initial top grade appearance, Hazleton was presented with his debut jersey by Sharks Immortal and fellow Goulburn native Gavin Miller, who spotted him in Goulburn, suggested Cronulla consider giving the big front rower an opportunity, and the rest is history.

“I’d known him (Miller) from around the area, everyone from Goulburn knows who he is. I got a phone call from Gav one afternoon after I’d been playing in Goulburn, that he’d put my name forward to the recruitment guy at the Sharks,” Hazleton recalled.

“He was there to give me my 20’s award (Hazleton was Sharks Jersey Flegg Player of the Year in 2019), and then my jersey for my debut. He’s been there for every step.”

Having one NRL game under his belt, Hazleton has ambition to play many more, but in the interim is happy continue his development with the Newtown Jets and to do what he can for the Cronulla team in the run home to the Finals.  

“You get the first one out of the way, but it makes you hungry to want more. If I get more games (this season) that’s good, obviously that’s what you want to do, but whatever role I have to play for the boys to get them ready for games, I’m happy to do that as well,” Hazleton added.

Talented, popular amongst the group, with a team first mentality, chances are there will be many more NRL games ahead for the ‘big fella’ from Goulburn, with the new two-year contract a fitting reward for his persistence.  

Tom Hazelton

DOB: 22 January, 1999
Height: 198cm
Weight: 116kgs
Junior Club: Goulburn Bulldogs

See above the Sharks Media video presentation of what Hazleton had to say prior his first game in the top grade.

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