You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Byers, Saunders staying at the Sharks

The Sharks have further firmed up their NRLW squad by retaining talented forwards Chloe Saunders and Rhiannon Byers while upgrading Manilita Takapautolo from a development deal.

Saunders and Byers, both former rugby sevens stars, have agreed to new two-year contracts that will keep them at the club until at least 2025.

Takapautolo, a promising back-rower, has earned a promotion to the top squad for the next two seasons as she continues her push for an NRLW debut.

NRLW coach Tony Herman said the trio have exciting careers ahead of them.

"We're thrilled to have Rhiannon commit to the club into the future," he began.

"She had a great game against the Raiders in round one last year and unfortunately broke her wrist. I didn't realise how much we'd miss her at the time, but she left a big hole in the team. I'm looking forward to her having a great 2024.

"Chloe came across from rugby sevens to rugby league in 2023. She works very, very hard on her game. She sees value in the one percenters and continues to show improvement. We expect 2024 to be huge for her.

"Manilita comes into the top 24. She's strong, powerful and learning the game. With her development moving forward, we expect her to have a big impact on 2024."

Scratching the surface of her potential in the 13-a-side code, Saunders showed toughness through the middle in playing all nine games for the Sharks in 2023, having first impressed for the club's Harvey Norman Women's Premiership team.

"I transitioned from sevens into league only last year. To be able to get another contract and extend over 2024 is exciting," Saunders said.

"I didn't want to go anywhere else. The club is really special and what we're building is really promising. We have a really good group in this club; I don’t think you'll find it anywhere else. We've got so much depth across our players.

"Last year, although we didn't finish with what we wanted, what we could produce shows so much potential and that's what makes it super exciting.

"I'm really thankful for my support group: my friends, family and my community back home in Kempsey on the mid-north coast. I've received a lot of love and support which has allowed me to play confidently.

"A lot of thanks to my coaches who have given me a lot of freedom to play."

The tenacious Byers, meanwhile, showed raw potential in the early stages of her conversion to rugby league before her season was unfortunately curtailed.

The proud Indigenous woman is determined to repay the club's faith in her ability.

"It means a lot because the Sharks gave me an opportunity after my sevens career ended with a back injury. It was nice to have the Sharks back me and have the belief that I can get back and be better," Byers said.

"I'll always want to be a Sharkies player and I'll give anything for the club due to that. I'm really excited to stamp that authority in the team, but I'm also trying to be super fit and the fittest out there.

"Even though that injury happened in round one, I'll come back better and stronger."

A recent product of renowned footy nursery Westfields Sports High School, where she was captain of the rugby league team and selected as an Australian Schoolgirl, the dynamic Takapautolo is tipped for an extremely bright future.

Takapautolo said her elevation to the top squad was special for her family. She aims to make her NRLW debut and represent her Tongan heritage in the near future.

"It's a big opportunity for me. Seeing as the coaching staff saw it in me to give me this promotion, it means a lot," the teenager said.

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Major Partners

View All Partners