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Sharks get the pen out
Cronulla has acted quickly to re-sign three key members of its forward pack ahead of the National Rugby League's June 30 anti-tampering expiring.
The Sharks announced the retention of experienced pair Danny Nutley and Sam Isemonger, along with exciting young back rower Daniel Dumas, for the next two seasons.
"Put Sam (Isemonger) and Danny Nutley in your pack and you're going to go forward in what you're trying to do," Cronulla coach Stuart Raper said.
"And in Daniel Dumas we have a very good young player who should be a quality first grader with us for a long time."
Thirty-year-old Nutley, who leads the NRL in tackles and is third in hit-ups, shows no signs of slowing down.
"This (contract) will see me out," Nutley said.
"Definitely no more after this. But I'm real happy to be staying with my mates.
"I'm very settled in the area now and I'm looking forward to the next two years.
"One of the main reasons I stayed is because the senior players at the club are great.
"Nigel (Vagana), Noddy (Brett Kimmorley), Stevo (Jason Stevens), Bails (Phil Bailey) and so many others who will also be here next year.
"I can definitely see some good things happening."
Second rower Isemonger, who played his junior football in the Shire, has put serious injury behind him to establish his place in first grade.
"Having no injuries I've been able to get some confidence back, which is one of the main reasons I've been playing a little better," Isemonger said.
"Playing all the time has helped me to get some combinations going with the ball players.
"With the players we've got here now, when we've got the full team on the paddock, we've got a side that can beat anyone."
The Sharks were also pleased to have finalised a deal with hard-hitting backrower Dumas.
The former Taree junior has gained the attention of opponents with his stinging defence and strong ball running.
"I'm happy to be staying with the club," Dumas said.
"I like it at Cronulla, it's a good atmosphere to play football here.
"Stuart (Raper) is letting me have a go and I'm pretty happy with that.
"Next year I'd like to cement a spot, lock or second row, that doesn't bother me, and then try to play to the best of my ability and see how I go."
The Sharks are still negotiating with a number of their other key off-contract players, including hooker/halfback Michael Sullivan, and hope to make further announcements soon.
Fullback and former captain David Peachey, along with prop Chris Beattie, suspended five-eighth Greg Bird and speedy winger Matthew Rieck are also off contract at the end of the season.
Peachey, 30, said he hoped to speak with club officials in the "next couple of weeks" about securing a contract for 2005.