CRONULLA has landed a double blow in its ongoing retention battle, re-signing captain-in-waiting Wade Graham and the NRL's most improved man in Matt Prior.
Graham put pen to paper on deal two-year extension worth more than $1.4 million, while Prior did likewise in recommitting until the end of 2020, knocking back interest from a cashed-up Newcastle to remain with the premiers.
The pair's re-signing is a significant coup for the defending champs, shoring up a forward pack that is bracing for the looming retirements of skipper Paul Gallen, as well as veteran back-rowers Luke Lewis and Chris Heighington in the near future.
Gallen has hinted that despite previous suggestions, 2017 may not be his last, and plans to make a call on a swansong season midway through the year.
Having re-signed Graham and Prior, as well as premiership-winning flyers Val Holmes and Sosaia Feki, Cronulla is making steady progress through a lengthy off-contract list. It also secured ex-Panthers hooker James Segeyaro this week until the end of 2018.
The Sharks face a significant battle when it comes to Blues star Jack Bird, however, who has attracted a reported three-year $2.7 million offer from Newcastle, while Parramatta is interested and able to match that figure thanks to the war chest freed up by Kieran Foran's exit last season.
The Sharks will face the Eels at ANZ Stadium tonight, with both sides aiming to bounce back from losses to the Dragons and Titans respectively last week.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.