SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Nicholas Hynes of the Sharks passes the ball during the round 23 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Cronulla Sharks at 4 Pines Park, on August 20, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

To further strengthen the depth and caliber of their NRL team, the Sharks have extended the contracts of local product Kade Dykes and kept hooker Jayden Berrell and outside back Mawene Hiroti.

Together with Hiroti, a former Australian schoolboy representative who joined the Sharks in 2020 and has since played 19 top grade games, Berrell, a former Queensland Cup Player of the Year who joined the Sharks in 2022, has been a standout for NSW Cup partner club the Jets over the past two seasons, winning Player of the Year in Newtown this year.

Regarding Dykes, the junior from De La Salle Caringbah sustained a knee injury early in 2023, but he showed poise and skill in his NRL games the prior season, giving the Sharks hope that he will leave his mark at the NRL level.

With Dykes already under contract for the upcoming season, Berrell and Hiroti have extended their contracts by one year until 2024. Dykes’ new agreement ties him to the team through 2025.

Dykes, who is only 21 years old, was expected to compete for a spot in the Sharks NRL roster for the 2023 season before suffering an injury during training that kept him out of action for the rest of the campaign.

Dykes played fullback in two NRL games in 2022, but he was a standout halfback in the Sharks junior rep system, where he played fullback and five-eighth for the Newtown Jets in the previous campaign.

“My primary goal is to return to the field and resume training so that I can rejoin the boys,” Dykes stated. “I’m excited to be a part of the Sharks for at least another two seasons. Fitzy and the coaching staff have us going in the right direction. We have a special group here.”

“First up the main thing for me is getting back on the field and to be training to being back out there with the boys,” Dykes said. “We have a special group here at the Sharks, Fitzy and the coaching staff have us heading in the right direction and I’m stoked to be a part of it for at least another two seasons.”

In relation to Hiroti, his performance back in round 23 against the Rabbitohs provided evidence of what he is capable of, the 24-year-old playing a pivotal role in the impressive win over Souths in Perth.

Used as a winger and centre in his NRL appearances to date, in showcasing his versatility Hiroti played a variety of positions at the Jets in 2023, from fullback, to five eighth and in his more familiar roles in the outside backs. Hiroti played 19 matches for Newtown in the Knock On Effect NSW Cup, where he scored five tries and kicked 61 goals.

“We have a tight group here at the Sharks and I’m excited to be coming back and to be around again next year,” Hiroti said. “I enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had in the NRL and will be working hard in the pre-season to be ready when my chance comes again.”

As for Berrell, the 28-year-old hooker has played 39 games in two years at the Jets, including 22 matches in 2023 for a Newtown side which fell just one win short of qualifying for the NSW Cup Finals. His efforts were rewarded when Berrell was named the recipient of the Brian Moore Award as the Jets best from the just completed season.

In those 39 games Berrell has scored 10 tries and supplied 31 try assists, while his 776 tackles this season ranks him third amongst all players in the NSW Cup competition. With Berrell leading the way, the Jets claimed the NSW Cup minor Premiership in 2022.

“I’m enjoying my time at the Sharks, looking forward to continuing to contribute to the team and to the club and I’m pleased to be signing on for another season,” Berrell said.

“While I’m still keen to test myself at an NRL level and will be ready when I get an opportunity, I’ve taken on a role of helping to mentor some of the younger boys coming through at the Jets and the Sharks development system and I’m enjoying that as well.”

Prior to arriving at Cronulla, Berrell, an Ipswich junior, won the Petero Civoniceva Medal as the Queensland Cup’s best player in 2021 while playing for Wynnum Manly.

Berrell and Hiroti will return with the rest of the Sharks NRL squad during November to begin preparations for the 2024 season, as will Dykes who has successfully rehabilitated the ACL injury suffered in the 2023 pe-season.

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