On the verge of leaving the Shire last season in the hope of new opportunities, Kayal Iro has exclusively revealed how close he came to departing and has provided an update on his future as he remains without a contract for next season.

A standout performer in the NSW Cup over the last three years, Iro was finally granted a regular spot in the Cronulla Sharks' backline this season by Craig Fitzgibbon and has failed to put a foot wrong during his past eight games since Round 4.

Consistently performing in the centres alongside winger Ronaldo Mulitalo, Iro has helped guide the club to the top of the NRL ladder with nine wins and two losses - one coming from last week's match against the Penrith Panthers.

However, as Sharks fans rejoice in seeing Iro's name on the team sheet, the Cook Islands international came extremely close to joining the Castleford Tigers in the Super League where the deal between the two parties were moments from being finalised.

Instead of moving clubs for new opportunities, Iro decided to stay loyal to the Cronulla Sharks and bide his time in the NSW Cup with their feeder club, Newtown Jets, where he was awarded the 2022 NSW Cup Player of the Season and two-time NSW Cup Centre of the Year.

"There's always that thought there, but at the same time, I wanted to stay at this club, and obviously, I want to be there," Iro told Zero Tackle.

"I'm a determined person, so when I want something, I want to put my best foot forward to get there. I'm just happy to be here now."

Kayal Iro also exclusively spoke to Zero Tackle about his future, where he remains off-contract at the end of the season.

While he provided no certainties about his future, he aims to remain at the Shire but concluded that rugby league is a funny thing sometimes.

"That's my goal (to remain at the Sharks), but footy's a funny thing sometimes, so you don't really know when the opportunity comes or what happens," Iro said.

Kayal Iro and the Cronulla Sharks will take on the Parramatta Eels on Thursday night at CommBank Stadium with both teams to be without multiple stars due to State of Origin.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 18: Kayal Iro of Cook Islands scores a try during the round 1 Rugby League World Cup 9s match between Tonga and Cook Islands at Bankwest Stadium on October 18, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)