NRL Rd 8 - Storm v Sharks
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: Connor Tracey of the Sharks runs the ball during the round eight NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla Sharks at AAMI Park on April 30, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The Cronulla Sharks have released utility Connor Tracey from the remainder of his contract to take up a multi-year contract with the Canterbury Bulldogs.

The two clubs confirmed the news on Tuesday afternoon, with the utility signing a three-year contract to make the move to Belmore that will see him wear blue and white until at least the end of 2026.

It was reported that Tracey's move would be in a player swap with young gun Michael Gabrael moving from the Shire to the Bulldogs.

Gabrael, who has been in the Bulldogs pathways since making the shift away from the Parramatta Eels, is an outside back and only has a development deal at Belmore in 2024. He was due to become a member of the club's Top 30 in 2025.

It's unclear at this stage whether he would move straight into the Top 30 at the Sharks, but it appears likely given Tracey would be vacating a spot at the club.

Tracey's link with an exit from Cronulla stemmed with the back being unable to lock down a permanent role in the starting side throughout the 2023 campaign, with his ability to play fullback, wing, centre and in the halves being as much to his detriment as it was to his advantage.

Canterbury's director of football Phil Gould said he has always admired Tracey.

"I've always admired Connor as a footballer and I'm very excited he has joined our Club," Gould said in a Bulldogs statement confirming the news.

"We are really looking forward to welcoming him to the squad."

The utility is believed to want to play fullback, but was stuck behind William Kennedy at the Sharks. It's unlikely he would take the jersey at Belmore either though with Stephen Crichton signed on big money from the Penrith Panthers to become the club's new number one.

The move to Canterbury comes with the club having already signed a number of utilities for 2024 including Blake Taaffe from the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Jaeman Salmon from the Penrith Panthers and Drew Hutchison from the Sydney Roosters.

Tracey had originally been linked with a move to join incoming coach Shane Flanagan at the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Tracey's preference is to play at Belmore though, while the move will also free up significant space in the Cronulla Sharks' salary cap, with it believed they are chasing a big-name prop as the potential missing piece to their puzzle.

The Sharks thanked Tracey for his efforts over four years with the club in a statement after the now 27-year-old came through the Sharks pathways system before movintg to the South Sydney Rabbitohs where he made his debut in 2019, eventually returning to Cronulla in 2020.

1 COMMENT

  1. Bulldogs? Dragons would be a better fit for Tracey.

    Michael Gabrael. Don’t know him, but the Sharks have plenty of depth in the backs. They would be better leaving another spot open and saving the money.

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