The Sharks have retained the services of hooker Jayden Berrell and outside back Mawene Hiroti, while extending the contract of local product Kade Dykes in bolstering the depth and quality of their NRL squad.
Berrell, a former Queensland Cup Player of the Year who joined the Sharks in 2022 has been a standout for NSW Cup partner club the Jets over the past two seasons, winning Newtown’s Player of the Year award this year, with Hiroti a former Australian schoolboy rep who joined the Sharks in 2020 and has since played 19 top grade games.
As for Dykes, the De La Salle Caringbah junior suffered a knee injury early in 2023 but in his NRL appearances the previous season displayed class and ability, leaving the Sharks confident he can make his mark at an NRL level.
Berrell and Hiroti have signed one-year extensions for 2024 and with Dykes already on contact for next season his new deal now links him to the club into 2025.
Dykes, just 21 years of age, was set to push for selection in the Sharks NRL squad in season 2023 until the training mishap saw him sidelined him out for the remainder of the year.
He played two NRL games in 2022 at fullback, however Dykes excelled in the halves during his time in the Sharks junior rep system, playing both fullback and five eighth for the Newtown Jets last season.
“First up the main thing for me is getting back on the field and to be training to being back out there with the boys,” Dykes said. “We have a special group here at the Sharks, Fitzy and the coaching staff have us heading in the right direction and I’m stoked to be a part of it for at least another two seasons.”
In relation to Hiroti, his performance back in round 23 against the Rabbitohs provided evidence of what he is capable of, the 24-year-old playing a pivotal role in the impressive win over Souths in Perth.
Used as a winger and centre in his NRL appearances to date, in showcasing his versatility Hiroti played a variety of positions at the Jets in 2023, from fullback, to five eighth and in his more familiar roles in the outside backs. Hiroti played 19 matches for Newtown in the Knock On Effect NSW Cup, where he scored five tries and kicked 61 goals.
“We have a tight group here at the Sharks and I’m excited to be coming back and to be around again next year,” Hiroti said. “I enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had in the NRL and will be working hard in the pre-season to be ready when my chance comes again.”
As for Berrell, the 28-year-old hooker has played 39 games in two years at the Jets, including 22 matches in 2023 for a Newtown side which fell just one win short of qualifying for the NSW Cup Finals. His efforts were rewarded when Berrell was named the recipient of the Brian Moore Award as the Jets best from the just completed season.
In those 39 games Berrell has scored 10 tries and supplied 31 try assists, while his 776 tackles this season ranks him third amongst all players in the NSW Cup competition. With Berrell leading the way, the Jets claimed the NSW Cup minor Premiership in 2022.
“I’m enjoying my time at the Sharks, looking forward to continuing to contribute to the team and to the club and I’m pleased to be signing on for another season,” Berrell said.
“While I’m still keen to test myself at an NRL level and will be ready when I get an opportunity, I’ve taken on a role of helping to mentor some of the younger boys coming through at the Jets and the Sharks development system and I’m enjoying that as well.”
Prior to arriving at Cronulla, Berrell, an Ipswich junior, won the Petero Civoniceva Medal as the Queensland Cup’s best player in 2021 while playing for Wynnum Manly.
Berrell and Hiroti will return with the rest of the Sharks NRL squad during November to begin preparations for the 2024 season, as will Dykes who has successfully rehabilitated the ACL injury suffered in the 2023 pe-season.