The Cronulla Sharks are reportedly set to elevate Nicho Hynes to the role of vice-captain for 2023.
It comes as the club prepare for the on-field and off-field effects of the departure of Wade Graham, which is expected to take place at the end of 2023.
The veteran was the standalone captain of the Sharks previously, but will be joined by Dale Finucane in a co-captaincy role this season.
It's understood Finucane will be given the matchday job of leading the side given he will be in the starting side, while Graham will be scrapping for minutes on the bench, with Briton Nikora and Teig Wilton continuing to stamp their authority over the number 11 and 12 jerseys for now second-year Craig Fitzgibbon.
News Corp report that while Finucane joins Graham in a two-pronged co-captaincy gig, it'll be star halfback Hynes, who has fast become the face of the NRL after winning the Dally M Medal last year and guiding the Sharks to a home qualifying final, who will be the vice-captain.
That could be to set him up to walk into a higher role during 2024 following Graham's departure, with Hynes now seen as the future of the Sharks, although there is no guarantee they will be able to keep him, with other clubs already expressing interest ahead of his contract expiring at the end of 2024, allowing other clubs to sign him from November 1 this year.
The 26-year-old, who moved from the Melbourne Storm ahead of the 2022 season, was superb throughout the course of the campaign and will be looking for more of the same this year as he continues to partner the re-signed Matt Moylan in the halves.
While Finucane and Graham will lead the side, it can't be helped but felt they are only keeping the seat warm for Hynes as he continues to build his skillset both on and off the field.
Finucane, like Graham, struggled with injury at times throughout 2022, which was also his first season at the Sharks having moved from the Melbourne Storm.
It could leave Hynes looking at becoming the sole captain for certain games in 2023 as the Sharks attempt to keep up the same standards that they set during an incredible 2022 season.