PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 22: Dale Finucane of New South Wales walks out onto the field during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin captain's run at Optus Stadium on June 22, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Star Sharks signing Dale Finucane has named senior coach Craig Fitzgibbon as a large lure in his decision to sign with Cronulla for 2022.

The New South Wales lock was arguably the most coveted player throughout this year, reportedly gaining interest from close to half the league before signing with the Sharks in July.

Finucane was the Sharks' third signing during the season, with fellow Storm star Nicho Hynes and Dragons forward Cameron McInnes having already penned moves to the Shire.

Perhaps the Sharks' biggest coup of 2021 was in the form of Fitzgibbon, who was appointed as the successor to John Morris as Josh Hannay took on the interim duties for the remainder of the season prior to Fitzgibbon's first day in charge.

That time allowed Fitzgibbon to plan a list restructure prior to the off-season's arrival, with Finucane and Hynes both signing from Melbourne following the senior coach's appointment.

Fitzgibbon's signature may have been the catalyst in having the Storm pair sign with Cronulla, with Finucane stating the former Roosters assistant was a key figure in his decision making.

“I’ve had a relationship with Craig Fitzgibbon since playing under him with Country and NSW Origin so that’s obviously what drew me to the club,’’ Finucane said, per The Australian

“There are a lot of quality players also at this club that I’m keen to play alongside.

Embed from Getty Images

“There’s a handful of guys I know from previous cubs or representative teams like Aiden Tolman, Wade Graham, Cam McInnes and obviously Nicho.

“I’ve been involved in grand finals and premierships and so it’s no secret that it was hard to leave Melbourne.

“But in saying that, I’m really excited about my opportunity here at the Sharks.

“It’s an opportunity to be part of helping mould what the club wants to be moving forward.’’

The Sharks have looked to transform their list ahead of the new season, with stalwarts Shaun Johnson, Aaron Woods, Chad Townsend and Josh Dugan among those having departed the club this year.

A finals finish is sure to be in the sights of Fitzgibbon for his maiden campaign, with the Sharks having narrowly finished outside top-eight contention on points differential.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: Nicho Hynes of the Storm is tackled 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)

Fitzgibbon will need to lock several key pieces into place first however, with none bigger than Hynes' role in the Sharks' spine.

A sensational season featuring at fullback and in the halves saw Hynes enjoy a breakout year under Craig Bellamy, with questions now being raised over how the speedy utility can be best utilised.

Despite the queries, Finucane is confident in Hynes' ability to flourish in the halves for Cronulla.

“I’ve got full belief in Nicho,’’ Finucane added.

“It was obviously unlucky for Ryan Papenhuyzen (Storm fullback) that he suffered his concussions, but lucky for Nicho in the way that provided his opportunity last year.

“Nicho then showcased what a quality player he is, he showed that he has terrific vision for how to play the game and how to provide for his team.

“In the halves, he’s going to do really well here at Cronulla."

The Sharks will begin their 2022 season against Canberra at GIO Stadium on Friday, March 11.