NRL Rd 7 - Knights v Panthers
NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: Bradman Best of the Knights is tackled by the Panthers defence during the round seven NRL match between Newcastle Knights and Penrith Panthers at McDonald Jones Stadium on April 15, 2023 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

The Cronulla Sharks have been a consistent picture of almost, but not quite good enough in recent seasons.

That trend continued in 2023 when the side found themselves falling short in Week 1 of the finals despite playing against a horrendously undermanned Sydney Roosters outfit.

That came after the year before where they finished in the top four on the back of Nicho Hynes' brilliance, but were still bounced out of the finals in straight sets.

The side clearly needs things to change if they want to hit the next level, and free agency ahead of 2025 could give them the opportunity to do just that.

In this series, Zero Tackle will run the rule over where each team currently stands for 2025, and what they will need to do when players off-contract at the end of 2024 become available for negotiation from November 1.

Current squad for 2025
Daniel Atkinson, Blayke Brailey, Kade Dykes, Dale Finucane, Royce Hunt, Nicho Hynes, Sione Katoa, William Kennedy, Cameron McInnes, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Briton Nikora, Jesse Ramien, Sam Stonestreet, Siosifa Talakai, Braydon Trindall, Teig Wilton

Current best 17 for 2025
1. William Kennedy
2. Sione Katoa
3. Jesse Ramien
4. Siosifa Talakai
5. Ronaldo Mulitalo
6. Braydon Trindall
7. Nicho Hynes
8. Royce Hunt
9. Blayke Brailey
10. Dale Finucane
11. Briton Nikora
12. Teig Wilton
13. Cameron McInnes
14. Daniel Atkinson
15. Kade Dykes
16. Sam Stonestreet
17. No player signed.

Players off-contract at end of 2024
Jayden Berrell, Jesse Colquhoun, Braden Hamlin-Uele, Mawene Hiroti, Kayal Iro, Matt Moylan, Niwhai Puru, Toby Rudolf, Siteni Taukamo, Connor Tracey, Jack Williams

Here are five players available to negotiate on November 1 from outside of the club the Sharks could target for 2025 and beyond.

EVERY PLAYER OFF-CONTRACT AT THE END OF 2024

Other clubs
» Brisbane Broncos
» Canberra Raiders
» Canterbury Bulldogs

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1. Terrell May

What the Sharks need more than just about anything is a - and potentially more than one - forward with size and strength in the middle.

The forward pack as it stands, and moving into the future, features the likes of Dale Finucane, Cameron McInnes and Toby Rudolf, as well as the far more power-punching options of Braden Hamlin-Uele and Royce Hunt.

They still have a decision to make on the future of Braden Hamlin-Uele and Toby Rudolf for 2025, as well as promising talent Jesse Colquhoun, but it's arguable that a couple of good forwards joining could be the difference between Cronulla continuing to plod around the edge of the top eight, or making a push for a premiership.

The youngest May brother may not be a top-echelon prop in the NRL yet, but he is certainly heading in that general direction.

The Roosters are yet to secure his future, and while he may be unlikely to leave Bondi given the opportunity he has received there, a number of clubs should be banging down the door for his signature.

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