NRL Rd 4 - Cowboys v Sharks
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 06: Toby Rudolf of the Sharks is tackled during the round four NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Cronulla Sharks at QCB Stadium on June 06, 2020 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Cronulla Sharks' prop Toby Rudolf has revealed he would be open to a switch to rugby union.

The prop played rugby union while he was growing up, but ultimately steered down the rugby league path before making his debut with the Cronulla Sharks at the age of 24.

The now 27-year-old has quickly become something of a cult hero in the competition and has now played 69 NRL games for the Sharks, becoming an almost permanent starter for Craig Fitzgibbon's side.

Speaking on The Bye Round Podcast with James Graham, Rudolf revealed he would be open to a switch back to the 15-man code if new Wallabies coach Eddie Jones came knocking due to the longevity rugby union can provide, as well as the opportunity to travel.

"Honestly, yeah, I think I would," Rudolf said when asked if he would consider making the switch.

"Just because, as you know, this game is very hard on the body. You can play league until you're 32 or 33. Obviously Paul Gallen was 38, but he is a freak of nature.

"Union is much easier on the body, you can play for longer, have a longer career, travel the world as well which is one thing I'm passionate about doing, so yeah, I'd entertain it for sure. It wouldn't be off the cards."

Rudolf's comments follow a string of reports suggesting Jones and the Australian Rugby Union are set to target a number of high profile NRL players ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour in 2025, which is followed quickly by the World Cup on home soil in 2027.

Joseph Suaalii, Will Penisini and Nelson Asofa-Solomona have been some of the names mentioned, and while Rudolf's name is yet to be mentioned in reports, his comments are sure to perk the interest of the ARU.

Rudolf said he can understand why they are targeting NRL players, but also believes the sport has dropped dramatically in Australia.

"I can understand why with a World Cup next year. All the talent is here. I saw a billboard the other day with the five Super Rugby teams with their captains or whatever and I couldn't recognise one person," Rudolf said.

"The sport in Australia, I don't know what happened, the Rugby World Cup was a massive deal, everyone knew every single player, and then whatever has happened has happened. There is a different level between union and league now.

Rudolf revealed that he always wanted to play rugby league professionally, and that it was only a mistake from his mother that saw him play union in the first place.

"With league, it was always what I watched growing up. Mum honestly just put me in the wrong code not knowing the difference between league and union," Rudolf said.

"I enjoyed playing both a lot, but every birthday, I wished to be an NRL player. Every birthday until I was 24 when I debuted."

Rudolf will line up with his Cronulla teammates this Sunday evening at Kogarah to play the St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 4 of the NRL season.