The Cronulla Sharks are in the middle of a crisis heading into the backend of the season after conceding their third straight loss on Saturday night to the Penrith Panthers.

As they desperately aim to remain in the top eight after recent poor form, coach Craig Fitzgibbon has pulled some drastic changes to his side after they have let in 102 points and only scored 38 points since their victory against the Wests Tigers in Round 19- three weeks ago, at the beginning of July.

While the club's poor performances have seen Fitgibbon drop the likes of former NSW Blues representative Matt Moylan, Wade Graham and Siosifa Talakai in favour of Braydon Trindall, Jesse Colquhon and Connor Tracey, there is one player he failed to give a chance this season, especially in the past couple of weeks.

That player is Kayal Iro.

The 2022 NSW Cup Player of the Year has been biding his time in the lower levels for the Newtown Jets as he awaits to receive the opportunity to play once again in first grade. A Cook Islands representative, Iro was destined to become the breakout player for the club at the beginning of the season, after making his NRL debut at the end of last season in Round 24 but has continually been overlooked at every opportunity.

"He's definitely got the most potential out of all of us (in) our whole back line," Talakai told this masthead.

"He's a freak of nature. He just puts his head down (and) works hard. He's young, tough, he's got raw talent, and he's real real real powerful.

"When he gets his opportunity, he is just gonna put a string of highlight reels together and rack them all up...he's a freak and he's definitely got the most potential."

Embed from Getty Images

A player that can easily slot into the fullback, wing or centre positions, Iro has built on his stellar NSW Cup performance from last season, in which he scored 14 tries in 22 appearances.

This year, in 13 appearances, Iro has recorded six tries, 11 line breaks, 89 tackles busts and five line-break assists, whilst averaging 176.8 run metres per game with 70.8 being post-contact metres, for the Newtown Jets- the Sharks feeder club in the NSW Cup.

Although Talaki admitted to this masthead that Iro has the most potential out of any of the outside backs at the club, his constant overlooking has caused him to view the market as he gets set to leave the club for a better opportunity elsewhere.

Despite being contracted for the remainder of this season and next, he has recently been linked to a move overseas, which could see him play for the Castleford Tigers in the Super League. This move outside of the NRL would see him follow in his father Kevin Iro's footsteps, who played the majority of his career playing overseas with clubs such as the Leeds Rhinos, St Helens RLFC and Wigan Warriors.

"He's someone we've looked at," Castleford Tigers coach Andy Last has previously said.

"An offer has been made, and it's a case of seeing if we can get it across the line. He's someone I think could help us.

"The process of recruitment and getting players across the line: you identify the player, offer them a deal, and they may agree, but the other club on the other side of the world have got to agree to it.
"We're working through a process, and hopefully, we get positive news. It's not a done deal yet."

The Cronulla Sharks will face another tough challenge this week against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in what is a must-win fixture for both teams as the Sharks look to remain in the top eight while the Rabbitohs will be contending for a top four position.

Sitting in seventh place as of Wednesday, they will then take on three of the best in-form teams in the competition to round out their final four weeks of the season; North Queensland Cowboys (away), Newcastle Knights (away) and Canberra Raiders (home).