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Sharks back rower Anthony Tupou, currently in some of the best form of his NRL career, has knocked back other offers to re-sign with the Sharks, while young outside back Ricky Leutele has also committed to the Cronulla club for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Tupou, who recently played his 200th NRL game and has previously represented NSW and Australia, is in his fifth season at the Sharks having debuted for the club at the start of 2009.
His signing, which is for two more years, comes as a major boost for a Sharks team currently travelling nicely inside the top eight on the 2013 NRL ladder.
As for Leutele, cruelly ruled out for the rest of the 2013 season with a severe ankle injury, as a player with immense promise his signing comes as another positive for the Sharks as they build a quality roster for the years ahead.
Coach Shane Flanagan expressed that Tupou’s commitment for a further two years to be an endorsement of the direction the club is heading, while he was also pleased to have secured the signature of Leutele, in doing so bolstering the quality and depth of his NRL backline.
“The last couple of years, while he hasn’t missed a lot of games Anthony had that radical surgery and has played injured a lot of the time. But finally his knee is good, he’s fit and he can run again,” Flanagan said. “As a result we’re seeing the old Anthony Tupou, fit and strong and we’re very happy he’s signed on for another two years.
“With Ricky, it was disappointing about his injury this year but he was in first grade, playing well and showing us what he can do at the start of the year. It’s a really important position and he is showing great potential,” Flanagan added.
For Tupou, the decision was made a little more difficult due to offers from a number of other clubs, including a couple from overseas, but in the end he made the call to stay at the Sharks during what he sees as an exciting period for the club.
“It’s awesome. It’s pretty hard when you’re coming off contract but I’m just happy now that I know I’m here for another two years and I think it’s a really good opportunity for me,” Tupou said.
“I feel like the club is getting better and better and I want to be a part of that and really add to that as well. It’s really good for me and my family.”
While somewhat out of sight, out of mind this year due to his long term ankle issue, Leutele was beginning to come into his own as an NRL player in 2013 until his unfortunate injury back in the Sharks round four match against the Warriors.
His rehabilitation and recovery is moving according to plan, however it is unlikely that he will be available to play again during the current season, with Leutele expected to be on deck for the start of pre-season training later this year.
The two key re-signings come hot on the heels of the recent decisions of halves partners Todd Carney and Jeff Robson to stay at the club after the end of the current season.
The Sharks will continue to be active in both re-signing players from the current roster as well as those from other clubs in the weeks and months ahead.