In a remarkable show of unity, members of the prolific Cronulla Sharks backline have revealed that they will take pay cuts in their upcoming contract talks if it means they can stay united in the Shire.
The Sharks face a retention nightmare come November 1, with Will Kennedy, Sione Katoa, Jesse Ramien, Siosifa Talakai and Ronaldo Mulitalo all hitting the market before their contracts expire next year.
Mulitalo has since told The Daily Telegraph that the players have a shared desire to stay together thanks to a strong bond stemming back to their days in the club’s junior system.
“For all of us, we know we’re going to have to take a pay cut at some point,” Mulitalo said.
“Siosifa has played Origin, Sione is an international, Jesse is on the cusp of Origin and is having an outstanding season.
“It’s tough for the club, we just have to try and find a way of fitting us all in. I’m confident something will happen.”
Mulitalo went on to advise that the player’s respective managers are even working together to try and formulate a plan for the group moving forward.
“We’ve all had conversations about sticking together. We won championships together through juniors and reserve grade, so we want to stick together.
“Our managers are trying to get together, everyone wants a bit of the cake and (now) it’s about how much we dish out to everyone.”
All five players have been exemplary for the Sharks this year as they eye a second-place finish and home advantage for a first-week finals game.
But despite the impact of the talented back-row and the value of experienced signings like Cameron McInnes, Nicho Hynes and Dale Finucane, Multialo believes it’s another recruit – coach Craig Fitzgibbon – who has the talented group playing to their strengths.
“We haven’t had anything (scandalous) off the field (this year) and if you look at our history we haven’t been the best,” Mulitalo admitted.
“(Fitzgibbon) has tightened the screws on and off the field. He talks about being a better man, and that comes before everything.
“It shows how serious we are about our footy and how we hold ourselves in public.”
Mulitalo’s comments come as Sharks chairman Steve Mace claimed Fitzgibbon could become Cronulla head coach for the next 20 years.
“We will do it, we will extend, we will keep going,” Mace said.
“We’re both not going anywhere so there’s no rush. The conversation is always fluid and we’ll do (a new contract) when it’s convenient.
“It’s a muck-around over a beer conversation all the time – when are we signing that 20-year deal?”