SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 23: Sharks players line up during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the North Queensland Cowboys at Allianz Stadium on September 23, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

One major signing can go a long way to building a premiership winning team.

One creative half, one hulking forward, or one speedy outside back, can completely change the complexion of a team’s roster.

Johnathan Thurston’s signing saw the Cowboys transform from NRL whipping boys into genuine contenders, into NRL premiers.

Could Melbourne possibly have been so successful had they not unearthed a young number nine named Cameron?

Don’t get me wrong, these signings did not guarantee success but I honestly can’t imagine where either side would be without their future immortals.

On the back of the Sharks historic premiership win, some have suggested that James Maloney could be the best signing in the club’s history.

The discussion got me thinking, and I’m now confident I can name the biggest and best signing in the modern NRL era.

Lyall Gorman.

For those who don’t know who Gorman is, and there will be plenty who won’t, he is the current Group CEO of the Cronulla Sharks. He not only oversees the running of the NRL side, but also the leagues club and the development of club owned land.

This is the man who oversaw not only the rebuilding of a club that had lost confidence in even its own fans but the crowning of that side as the NRL’s best in 2016; all in two years.

Appointed by a board led by Damian Keogh, Gorman brought with him a wealth of experience and plenty of success, but even his biggest fan wondered if perhaps the charismatic former Wanderers boss had bitten off more than he could chew.

At a series of pre-season fan forums following his appointment, Gorman answered every question asked of him.

Fans were angry and wanted reassurance that their money would not be wasted as the club struggled to recover from a series of events that may very well have ended a less resilient organisation.

Gorman, who went above and beyond to stress that he would be leading a team of the best people, not an individual crusade, sounded confident and proved once again that he could sell ice to Eskimos.

Fans, who entered the forums with anger in their veins, left optimistic that their club was in brilliant hands.

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Prior to his appointment, the Sharks “organisation” was akin to a madhouse.

Former CEO Steve Noyce was leading the club into extinction, more concerned with convincing fans that they were wrong to doubt his vision rather than making the positive changes needed to lead the club out of their slump.

The club was sans its coach, was losing sponsors in droves, was forced to feed on the scraps of other clubs cast offs recruitment wise, and had just sacked its best player in comical circumstances.

Noyce, when asked about the future of Valentine Holmes in first grade, jokingly quipped that he’d “rather throw young Val into traffic than allow him to play first-grade footy”. For the record, both he and Nu Brown were in first grade just weeks later.

The place was a joke.

The community had fallen out of love with their club, whose trophy room was far more likely to be filled with wooden spoons than Arthur and Summons.

Only true (black, white and) blue fans of the club could describe how negative the feeling at the club at the end of 2014 were.

The majority of Gorman’s first speech centred on the club earning back the trust of its stakeholders.

It was stressed that the club would return to its community routes, and the club would be built on more than just success on the park.

Suddenly the players, who had been hidden away for so long, were out in the community once again. The club colours were everywhere, and suddenly the vibe started to change.

Membership packages suddenly looked far more appealing, and fans started to believe again.

As did the sponsors. They were hardly lining up to pour money into the club, but at least they were paying attention to the Shire club, instead of distancing themselves from it.

Gorman expressed genuine belief in the troubled returning Shane Flanagan and his team. Former Dragons coach Steve Price stood proudly with a smile from the back of the room. If a former Red V mentor was buying into the vision, surely Sharks fans would.

And they did.

Results on the field started to change, but it was off the field where results were impressive.

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Crowd numbers rose, membership went up, more and more Shark jerseys were seen in the Cronulla mall as the weeks went on.

Then there were the signings of James Maloney and Chad Townsend.

There is little to no chance that a player of Maloney’s stature would even consider the Sharks during the peak of the ASADA mess.

Yet in his first interview after signing with the club, he said that after his future at the Roosters ended, there was only one place he wanted to play, at Cronulla.

Jack Bird, arguably the club’s most exciting prospect, re-signed with the club and is now in talks to sign a long-term deal. Valentine Holmes and Wade Graham, two vital pieces of the club’s puzzle going forward, are in talks to ink long-term deals.

Major sponsors Southern Radiology followed. Southern Cross Group came on board as sponsors of the former ‘Shark Park’, after a certain car company lost confidence in the club.

Oh, and then there is the presence of the most sought after trophy in the business sitting proudly in Sharkies Leagues for the next 12 months.

Anyone who follows the club will know the changes in attitude toward the club within the community cannot be put into words.

There will be detractors, like a certain member of the Zero Tackle community (has anyone checked on young Ron just quietly?), but surely no one close to the situation can have anything but good things to say about the man who leads the Sharks to the promised land.

I can’t think of a player, official or stakeholder at any club who has turned their club around both on and off the field quicker than the man who should have his very own statue outside Southern Cross Group Stadium, next to both Gallen and ET, than Lyall Gorman.

After the countless hours he has put into restoring a club that looked set for relocation, it was an absolute pleasure to see his partaking in a “shoey” celebration this past Monday as fans of the club cheered him on.

He’ll deny it, but he is THE most important piece of the Sharks premiership puzzle.

39 COMMENTS

  1. They actually mentioned Ronald-M hahaha. Maloney is probably the Sharks best ever signing, although there are a few other amazing ones in Ennis, Fifita etc. Who would you guys regard as the best signing out of any club of all time? I would probably say Thurston to the Cowboys even if it’s at the expense of my mighty Bulldogs 🙁

    • +1

      “There will be detractors, like a certain member of the Zero Tackle community (has anyone checked on young Ron just quietly?)”

      Your a tipping legend ronald-m take a bow! LOL 😉

    • +1

      “There will be detractors, like a certain member of the Zero Tackle community (has anyone checked on young Ron just quietly?)”

      You’re a tipping legend ronald-m take a bow! LOL 😉

      • Could be right mate. Wait, how about Graham to the Dogs? Not the greatest of all time, but a fantastic signing anyway. I kind of wish Foran’s life didn’t go down the shi*ter. He was so good to watch.

    • You really want to know the greatest signing ever? Tony Williams to the Bulldogs. That man was an absolute God in his time here, damn I’ll miss him.

  2. The greatest ever signing is Eastern Suburbs signing Dally Messenger from Rugby Union.

    In regards to ronnie, I don’t think we’ll hear from him before kickoff of next season. After years of bad mouthing the Sharks not just on Zero Tackle but other sites as well (he’s been missing from those too haha) there’s simply no coming back from this. Not only did Gal and the Sharks win the premiership, they did so by beating his beloved Storm team, with his hero and idol Cam Smith steamrolled by Fifita for the winning try! There are now so many stats to throw at ronnie after this game, a few good ones are “Paul Gallen 100% winning record over Cam Smith in Grand Finals”, “Craig Bellamy 0% winning record against Shane Flanagan in Grand Finals”.

  3. here here . well written Dan N. i listened to an interview with Lyall on 2sm in regards to michael Gordon being released to go the eels that was knocked back .hughes especially got into him but he held his own .i started to take notce of the man than . i just hope for the sharks he can stay around for the long term .
    up up cronulla.

  4. WRONG !!! DCE is , oh sorry my mistake , as usual read half the article and jumped the gun ,,,,,, lucky I’m wearing a condom ,,,,, BBQ Jimmy is a gun ,,,,,

  5. Ronnie M, can you get me in touch with Will Chambers? I’d like to buy him a Sharks Membership for life for not passing the footy to Cronk.

    • eelsalmighty

      Could you imagine the Bunnies without Madge? Now THAT’s a signing!! Not just in the success and professionalism he has brought to the club in how he conducts himself in front of the media. Giving his 2014 premiership ring to Issac Luke speaks volumes for the sort of man he is. There are much higher profile coaches who do nothing but complain, blame others and offer excuses while Madge is one of the very few who actually gives credit to the other team and coach and always tries to find a positive. And yes, Brad HAS done a great job under VERY difficult circumstances. Agreed.

      hussell99

      I would also have to throw Inglis in as well as Sam Burgess for Souths. But I think Thurston to the Cowboys deserves the title.

      • I can agree with that. Now cast your mind back a month or so, and back to bringing Robbie in. I understand your concern re Cook, but imagine what a great coach could do with Robbie in the team. I can, and as a Parra supporter I hope I’m wrong, twice next year at least.

        • eelsalmighty

          Re Robbie at Souths, well he is there now and only time will tell. That there has been no further announcement about Cook leaving I can only hope is a good sign as (given that Cook is currently contracted to Souths) I hardly think there will be a story announcing “Cook is still playing for Souths”.

          In any case Madge has done wonders with the club and even though there were difficult times this year and there were voices suggesting it might be time for a change, I always resisted this. As long as Madge has the confidence and support of his team he will continue to improve Souths as a team and continue to build on the professional, positive and successful culture he has been a part of. He is a natural leader and someone who is always looking for positives out of the negatives in life. Having spoken with him briefly after a game I can say he is a true gentleman and any praise he receives he deflects back to the team.

          I am not sure if Souths will be one of the top 4 teams next year but I am pretty confident they will be one of the better teams next year and create a lot of head aches for their opposition.

      • I can’t argue with all of the high-profile names being tossed around, but one of the two most significant signings Souths ever made was Freddie Anderson from the ”Berries”. He won the ball when scrums were fair dinkum, directed the young players like Coote and McCarthy, and lifted Souths up from easybeats to the start of a golden era.

        The other was Mr Roy Asotasi. If he had not signed with Souths they would have had problems signing other quality players. Mr Asotasi is still revered by Souths players, administration and fans today.

        • chalky

          As I was born in the mid-sixties Freddie Anderson was before my time but I am sure you are right. From my generation though, Terry Fahey (from Western Division in the Country if memory serves) was THE signing for Souths from my junior years. For those here too young to remember, Terry Fahey was the Eric Grothe or the Manu Vatuvei of his generation.

          About Roy Asotasi, Souths certainly paid overs there but, as you say, before then no one would sign with Souths so you are right, it was a very significant signing. Unlike Fletcher, Fairfax, Craigie, Brasher and MacDougall who came to Souths at the back end of their careers, Roy came to Souths when he was still in his prime and on the way up. No disputing Roy Asotasi was a great player and leader of our club at a time when Souths badly needed both.

          But when you consider the profile, talent and influence of Sam Burgess and Greg Inglis in the game, those two IMO were are biggest signings (for Souths) in the modern era, given that they are both internationals, key figures in the game and potential Dally M contenders every year.

  6. RIP Bekky Wilson. Bitterly ironic that one of the last things she saw was Gallen lift the premiership trophy.
    I didn’t agree with much you said, but I’ll kind of miss your inflammatory posts on here.
    Let’s all raise a glass of bourbon to Flake.
    You’ll be missed.

  7. Great story. Mentioning ole Rons name did tarnish it a bit, & he will also think hes hit the “Big Time” now because of his name mention…. but hey, what the heck. Im still celebrating…. UP UP CRONULLAAA…..

  8. Theres been some great signings over the years ill try and say my opinion for each teams greatest signing
    Broncos a lot of there best are one club heroes but big gordie come over from st george and was one of the greatest back rowers of all time keep in mind im only 21
    Bulldogs graham would probably be it but id probably have to choose luke patten the general was a grea fullback and they may not have won the comp in 04 without him
    Raiders the raiders have always been a struggling team but the last few years especially this one they have looked dangerous its a toss up between blake austin and joey leilua but i think ill go with schifoske for the simple fact that he is a club legend
    Sharks everyones saying maloney but im gunna say ennis he was unreal at cronulla no ennis no premiership
    Titans it probably will be hayne they needed a marquee man but their original big 3 prince campbell and bailey were great also myles Harrison if i had to choose one id go with preston he was great for the titans but ash taylor is destined to take his spot
    Sea eagles you cant go past jamie lyon most of the rest are home grown
    Storm Lazarus was before my time so im gunna go with widdop he was instrumental in 2012 he was outstanding for melbourne
    Knights id say ben kennedy one of the greatest back rowers of all time was one of the best in the 01 gf
    Cowboys Thurston obviously
    Eels this is a tough one can’t really think of anyone besides norman pr jeff robson
    Panthers preston campbell talented football i dont think they win the comp without him
    Dragons toss up between jamie soward and darius boys both were outstanding and big reasons why they won the comp ill go with sowie
    Rabbitohs burgess comes to mind and would probably be most popular but I think there is no way souths would of won if it wasnt for greg inglis has taken his game to a whole new level at souths which is very impressive seeing that he was the worlds best centre and representing qld and Australia every time
    Roosters plenty would say sbw maloney but theres a few in front of course craig fitzgibbon and craig wing are up there but you can’t go past freddy he was instrumental in the roosters success early 2000’s
    Warriors im gunna go with a shock choice and say lillyman he has been great for the warriors since moving over there amd the tigers is a tossup between 2 amd i think everyone knows which two prince amd hodsgon hodsgon was there longer so ill give him the edge

  9. Scott Prince to the Tigers. Broken down, nobody wanted him and then the Tigers gave him a chance and he steered them to victory in 2005.

    Come to think of it, that was their only good signing apart from Gareth Ellis.

  10. The tiges have had a couple of good signings over the year hodsgon prince ellis taylor kevin naiqama im sure if i looked right into it id find loads more and yeah id go prince now I think ofnit again and id probably change lillyman to price

  11. Yes I’ve heard and i hope vaughan comes to newcastle its been rumoured for a while but dragons were leading the race with a big offer now im hearing hes backed away from the dragons and is heading to newcastle will be another great signing for the knights exactly the kind of guy we need also heard we could be landin DWZ i doubt it but i think hes from newcastle and he would be great could be our long term fullback

  12. I agree lyall gorman is the best ever person aquisition to be contracted by the sharks.and just another final word to the brain dead half wit zero tackle germs… flake with chips,Ronald m ,Marldon that we have had to listen to over the years….shut up idiots ,sharks are number 1.also to all the sharks haters who bring up peptides everytime something good about cronulla gets mentioned,if that’s all your poorly developed brains can think up ,you are certainly losers who know nothing about rugby league,nothing about life in general and are best to keep your utter rubbish in your own TINY brains.i now just laugh and view comments and people that link sharks and the 2016 premiership to something that happened many years ago with only one or two players remaining from that squad is ridiculous and extremely dumb,to those people give up on rugby league and trying to comment on it,not working for you never will,because CRONULLA SHARKS Are 2016 premiers and you morons can’t go nearby taking that away,never ever……

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