NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15: Matt Moylan of the Cronulla Sharks runs the ball during round one NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 15, 2019 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

Two weeks ago, I was consigned to another year of the status quo when it came to my "beloved" Cronulla Sharks.

As players returned to training, 15 of the 17 fanbases were excited about their new signings and the new opportunities those signings present.

The 2016 grand finalists sat, unified, in boredom, as neither team added a single player to their 2024 rosters.

A big recruitment drive isn't always a necessity, with the likes of the Panthers and Broncos sitting pretty despite welcoming in a class of new stars, but in the Shire, new blood is needed.

The team limped to sixth last season and was dumped from the finals without a win yet again.

Glaring weaknesses in the middle of the pack, as well as in the back-row depth at the club, were obvious for all to see.

Yet Craig Fitzgibbon sat back, seemingly content with what he had in the system.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 28: Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon watches his players warm up during the round eight NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Cronulla Sharks at Suncorp Stadium, on April 28, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

I signed up for my season tickets for 2024 and set my expectations in another finals finish and first round exit.

Then it happened!

The Sharks made not one, but two clever moves for the 2024 and beyond, and suddenly the skies in the Shire look far more beautiful.

This statement will sound strange as the Sharks let two experienced players go, without adding anyone of real note ... yet!

Former Dragons back-rower Billy Burns has joined the club on a minimum deal. Given he has 40 games of NRL experience to his name in a position where the Sharks have almost zero depth, I'm fine with this signing.

Although unconfirmed, reports heavily indicate that the Sharks have brought young gun Michael Gabrael across with a look to the future.

Neither signing looks to have set the Sharks fanbase alight with excitement, but the possibilities certainly have.

The club was reportedly very happy to let Moylan move to England. Given his age and diminishing role in the team, it just made sense.

Moylan has extended his career, the Sharks have found cap space and can now proceed with their future options in Braydon Trindall and Kade Dykes.

When it comes to Connor Tracey, you won't find many bigger fans than me.

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)

Tracey is the player who will put 100 per cent into every hit up and tackle regardless of situation. Even at 40-0 down, you know Tracey is taking that hard run.

He filled in admirably for the Sharks when called upon.

That said, he's 27, on a fair chunk of change, had a year left on his contract and wasn't first choice in any position at the club.

He simply had to move on.

The Sharks are flush with super talented prospects across the backline.

Kayal Iro is banging the door down for a start while Sam Stonestreet has a monster future ahead of him.

Mawene Hiroti can also fill in across the backline in a very similar role to Connor Tracey. The only difference being Hiroti is 24 and on a team friendly deal.

Although Tracey's release has split the fanbase almost down the middle, what it has done is ensure the Sharks have $500,000 or-so to strengthen needs within the squad.

Suddenly the club has become a player in the market.

Cronulla are in a good spot as to where they don't need to rush out and spend the money right away. They can sit back and wait for the right player to become available.

There is no secret to the Sharks interest in Addin Fonua-Blake. He is the missing piece to the Sharks puzzle and the unicorn signing, on the field.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 27: Addin Fonua-Blake of the Warriors is tackled during the round three NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Warriors at GIO Stadium on March 27, 2021, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Whether or not he's available or will stick to the reported words that he'll stick around in New Zealand for 2024 will have a big say in what the Sharks do next.

They're in the hunt though, supposedly.

David Klemmer was reportedly in the club's sights last season. Despite the ridiculous criticism of him based on incidents from many years ago, Klemmer should be target number one now.

He missed seven tackles last season, averaged 140 metres, played every game and his errors and penalties conceded were far less than any of the Sharks starters.

Due to moving on two players who weren't going to be there for 2025, nor play a big role in 2024 - if any - they've ensured they're in the hunt.

Even if Fonua-Blake and Klemmer don't end up in the Shire, the fact is the Sharks can now make a move. One they desperately needed.

That left over cap space can sit until mid-way through next season. If the right player doesn't come up, they can simply upgrade from within.

Or, as with every single season in the history of the modern game, a player will become available.

Moving away from fantasy recruitment though, moving Tracey and Moylan on says to me that Fitzgibbon and his recruitment staff are looking to the future.

The names Kayal Iro, Sam Stonestreet, Kade Dykes and Jesse Colquhoun are the four names I'm most excited about. That's just within the senior squad also.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 18: Kayal Iro of Cook Islands scores a try during the round 1 Rugby League World Cup 9s match between Tonga and Cook Islands at Bankwest Stadium on October 18, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Kade Dykes has returned from an ACL injury bigger and stronger. That shows he's dead serious about his rehab and his future.

If I had to guess right now, he will be the long-term halves partner to Nicho Hynes. The combination is one that excites this jaded Sharks fan greatly.

Trindall and Dykes now have an opportunity to impress and set the club up long-term.

Iro and Siosifa Talakai look set to battle it out for the left centre position. Surely it's time to move Talakai back to the forwards and unleash the freakishly talented Iro upon the NRL.

Talakai himself said Iro is the future. Let's hope it's soon as Iro is being chased by a number of clubs.

Either way though, the opportunities are there.

Opportunities that I straight up didn't see even two weeks ago.