The Cronulla Sharks have revealed star halfback Nicho Hynes has been ruled out of this weekend's pre-season challenge match against the Canterbury Bulldogs as a precaution.

Hynes, who has already had an on-field hit out this year after helping the Indigenous All Stars to a win over the Maori All Stars last weekend in Townsville, has been the club's most important player over the last two years.

That has led the Sharks to take no risk when it comes to Hynes' fitness, ruling him out of the clash against the Bulldogs on Friday after he complained of tightness in his quad during the team's final training session on Thursday ahead of the game.


It means the All Stars game will be Hynes' only game prior to the season kicking off, and his first run alongside teammates will be during Round 1 against the New Zealand Warriors on March 8, which the Sharks are confident he will be fit for.

For the trial against the Bulldogs, Hynes will be replaced in the halves by utility Daniel Atkinson, who spent most of the 2023 campaign with the Newtown Jets in the NSW Cup after playing for the Sunshine Coast Falcons the year before as part of the Melbourne Storm system.

Hynes being rested has not brought a new face into the squad, with Atkinson and Braydon Trindall, who starts at five-eighth, now likely to play big minutes. Kade Dykes and Niwhai Puru are both in the squad and will feature during the game at Belmore off the interchange bench.

Trindall is believed to have the inside running to be named in the number six against the Warriors in Round 1, although Dykes is the second option to play for Craig Fitzgibbon as the club move on from Matt Moylan, who departed at the end of 2023 to head to the English Super League.

Kick-off is scheduled for 8pm (AEDT) on Friday.

Zero Tackle's 2024 NRL Season Guide is now live, and this year, it's FREE! Over 120 pages of content, with every player profiled, full team lists, stats and expectations for every team. Get your FREE DOWNLOAD now.