Former Sharks prop Jason Stevens has urged his old club to ”sell the farm” if necessary to retain talented bookends Kade Snowden and Luke Douglas, who are among a dozen Cronulla players said to be off-contract at season’s end.
While electrifying fullback Nathan Gardiner has re-signed with the club and skipper Paul Gallen is keen to renew his current deal, which expires in 2013, to remain a one-club player, at least 12 of the club’s top-25 players are believed to be off-contract at the end of the season.
It’s understood John Mannah, Ben Pomeroy, Scott Porter and Tim Smith are among those off-contract, but astute judges, including Stevens, believe the two 24-year-old props are the cornerstones on which Cronulla must build their future.
The Sharks hope to have Snowden, a Newcastle junior who played Origin last season, signed within weeks.
His up-front partner is also a priority. While many believe Douglas was unlucky not to play for the Blues last year, he proved his iron man qualities by chalking up his 100th consecutive game last season.
The fact that the likes of NSW Origin coach Ricky Stuart, who helped develop them during his tenure at Cronulla, rank the pair as the best front-row combination in the NRL means Cronulla face fierce competition for their services.
Stevens said he saw traits in the Douglas-Snowden partnership that reminded him of how he and his old teammate Martin Lang performed for the club during the late 1990s and early 2000s.