Despite Wade Graham re-signing with the Cronulla Sharks for 2023, it appears the back-rower is no certainty to run out in the captain's armband each week.
Graham has been Cronulla's on-field leader ever since Paul Gallen hung up the boots at the end of the 2019 season, however injuries have ruled the second-rower's past few seasons, and due to the rise of Teig Wilton and Briton Nikora, is no longer guaranteed a starting spot.
While he only came off the bench in three of his 18 NRL games in 2022, the former Panther turns 33 at the backend of next season, and has been linked to the Catalan Dragons in the past as his career begins to wind down.
It's left Craig Fitzgibbon to ponder his leadership options, guaranteeing that Graham will still have a leadership role, even if it's not as their sole captain.
There's a host of names to be considered if Fitzgibbon were to shuffle the captaincy pecking order, though no more so than former Storm duo Dale Finucane and Nicho Hynes.
Finucane is a born and bred leader that's certain to start each week, and with six Grand Final appearances under his belt, has the experience to lead the Sharks each week.
Hynes is a growing leader, he speaks incredibly well and doesn't have a massive ego weighing on his shoulders - just a Dally M medal following his first season at halfback, and in the Shire.
Graham expressed his team-first attitude when his re-signing was announced, declaring winning games and constantly improving is more important to him than his own minutes on-field.
“I'm really proud and grateful to have the opportunity to play on for another year here at the Sharks,” Graham said to the Cronulla Sharks website last month.
“I'll do whatever is best for the team. I do care to play each week, but for me, I care more about how we go as a team, our performances, our results. I want to help drive us to the next level.”
A final decision is expected to be made before trials roll around mid-February.
I think the decision was made before Cronulla even offered him an extension: “Wade, you’ll be coming off the bench and your primary role will be off-field. Still want to go around again? “
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