The Cronulla Sharks have confirmed the signing of former Penrith Panthers young gun Niwhai Puru.
The young half has signed a two-year deal with the club that will commence immediately, seeing him join the Sharks' development squad in 2023 before moving to the Top 30 in 2024.
The Panthers agreed to a release request for the 20-year-old to facilitate the move, with Puru seen as a possible debutant in the top grade in the coming 24 months at the Sharks, pending his progression and development.
The Sharks have re-signed Matt Moylan to play five-eighth alongside Nicho Hynes, however, their depth is skinny, with Braydon Trindall the only other recognised half on the roster following the off-season departure of Luke Metcalf.
Lachlan Miller is also at the club, but off-contract at the end of 2023 and has thus far only been utilised at fullback or on the wing by head coach Craig Fitzgibbon following his switch from rugby union.
Puru, who also is a goal kicker, played Jersey Flegg for the Panthers in 2022 where the club won a premiership. He also impressed in the NRL trials last season.
Fitzgibbon said Puru is an excellent fit on the Shire.
“Niwhai is an impressive young talent and an excellent fit for our club," Fitzgibbon said in a club statement.
“He displays great attitude and skill level and we're excited to have him onboard for at least the next two seasons and to watching him develop.”
Puru is expected to start the season in the NSW Cup, although is still eligible for Jersey Flegg, which is an under-21 competition.