The Cronulla Sharks’ retention efforts have been given another boost, with the club confirming in-form prop Royce Hunt has extended his stay in the Shire and will now play for the Sharks in 2023.

After spending two years as a handy impact player off the bench, Hunt’s development and form have seen him become a mainstay in the starting side under coach Craig Fitzgibbon.

His one-year extension comes as the Sharks prepare for a return to the finals after a ninth-place finish in 2021.

“I’m happy to be staying another year, I love what the club is building and what we’re building as a team,” Hunt told club media.

“We’ve got a lot of quality boys on the bench as well. To be honest I’m happy to play wherever, as long as I get on the field and do my job for the team.”

Hunts extension leaves the Sharks’ pack in very healthy shape for 2023, with Braden Hamlin-Uele, Jack Williams and Briton Nikora all opting to extend their stays at the club this year. The club reports youngsters Jesse Colquhoun and Tom Hazelton are also likely to recommit.

“We’ve got a lot of depth in this club,” Hunt said.

“Everybody is fighting for a spot every week, so it’s put pressure on everybody playing NRL. The young boys coming through are definitely keeping us on our toes.”

Hunt joined the Sharks in 2020 and impressed in his earliest outings for the club, only to suffer a serious knee injury after 14 games. As recovery and covid created numerous issues with his return he struggled for game-time in 2021, but he’s bounced back to his best in 2022 and has been duly rewarded.

“It was a goal at the start of the year to try and start a game, at least one this year, and be able to do that consistently over the last few weeks has been pretty good for me.”