Greatest Teams Ever Pt 4: Cronulla Sharks

With their fans still on a high following their maiden premiership, the Sharks have been blessed with some tremendous players over the years that have played significant roles for the club.

Again, as previously mentioned, the players selected in this team are those that have played almost exclusively for the Sharks.
Will any active Sharks player make the team or do they just miss out? Do you agree with the side that we’re going to put forward?

Here is our greatest Cronulla Sharks side ever:

1. David Peachey – Starting his Sharks career in the reserve grade squad, it wasn’t too long before Peachey played first-grade on the back of consistent, dazzling displays in the lower grades. His debut eventually came in Rd 1 of the 1994 season and before too long, he established himself as an exciting, regular first-team player.
He impressed not only Sharks fans but rival fans as well, becoming a fan favourite of many across the league. Quick, nifty & with great footwork, Peachey was a welcome addition to the Sharks side, often producing magic plays and running great lines.
1999 saw Peachey win the Dally M Fullback of the Year award before he made his NSW debut in 2000 in Game 1. In addition to his Origin appearance, Peachey played for Australia and also attained several awards of recognition. With every good player, though, comes periods of poor form.
Peachey’s became evident during the transition of John Lang as coach to Chris Anderson, with the usual vibrant and creative custodian going in and out of games. True to form, though, he bounced back and in 2003, he was named in the top ten Cronulla Sharks legends.
Age started to get the better of Peachey but he proved his worth as the 2004 season rolled on, when he produced the sort of form that had so many excited during his early years. The skill and smoothness were back but as the 2005 season came around, so too did rumours that Peachey was on his way out.
Eventually, the man himself confirmed on the Channel Nine Footy Show that he would not be staying at the Sharks. He went to England and had some time with Widnes before returning to the NRL with the South Sydney Rabbitohs halfway through the 2006 season, once again showing that he was a gifted player.


2. Luke Covell – Before he played for the Sharks, Covell had a small stint at the Wests Tigers. As he sought more opportunity, though, he joined the Sharks and made his club debut in 2005. Whilst not the quickest player nor the flashiest, it was heart and determination that made Covell a fan favourite. An adept goal-kicker, Covell ended up with more than 1000 points in his career and produced consistent footy across his career.
Regarded as the slowest winger in the NRL at the time, rather than try to deny it or stay hidden, Covell just embraced it and took it in his stride.
“I know some people out there think I’m too slow for the NRL. Not talented enough. But that’s okay … I’ve always known it too,” Covell once said.
Covell made a sole international appearance for New Zealand but it was unfortunately cut short when he was injured early on in the game. In 2008, though, he won the Dally M Point-scorer of the Year award in what was a solid season for the Sharks team.
His career at the Sharks lasted 6 seasons and it could have been more, however, Covell had to retire at the end of the 2010 season after his attempt at returning to the field after undergoing Ligament Augmentation and Reconstruction Surgery (LARS).


3. Steve Rogers – Unfortunately no longer with us, Steve Rogers name and Sharks legacy will forever be etched in the club’s folklore. A tremendously talented centre, the Sharks named him as one of their five immortals upon his retirement.
A prodigious talent, Rogers made his first-grade debut at just 18 in 1973 with his talent on show. Captain/coach Tommy Bishop described Rogers as a “rare, rare talent – the greatest all-round centre three-quarter I have seen.” Rogers also played in his first grand final that year and also played in his first Kangaroo tour.
The Sharks made their next grand final in 1978 with Rogers as captain and whilst they forced it into a tie and thus a rematch, they lost in the end. 1978 was the first year that saw Rogers move to lock regularly which led to him winning the 1981 Dally M Lock of the Year Award.
1975 was one of Rogers’ best years and his form saw him awarded the Rothman’s Medal for the best and fairest in the NSWRFL. Rogers went on to play 21 games for New South Wales and 24 games for Australia and won a second Dally M Award in 1981, as well as being named player of the series in the 1981 Tooth Cup.
Financial issues at the Sharks then resulted in Rogers departing to the St George Illawarra Dragons for one season before he returned to the Sharks. He only played nine minutes, though, after breaking his jaw. A short stint at Widnes then followed.


4. Andrew Ettinghausen – A local junior, Ettinghausen is one of the greatest ever players to don the Sharks jersey. A fan favourite throughout the entirety of his career, he was scouted and signed with the Sharks at a young age and although his first-grade debut was not until 1983, he did play for the Australian Schoolboys side in 1982 and 1983.
Although he went on to spend the majority of his career as a centre, Ettinghausen made his debut in 1983 as fullback and although it was quite uneventful, he was given another opportunity. The slow start to his career resulted in ET being dropped back to first-grade. 1985 was a better year for Ettinghausen as he scored 10 tries playing across fullback, wing and centre before he then cemented his spot in the Sharks side just a couple of years later.
His first representative appearance came for NSW in 1987 and the rise of ET began as the 1988 season rolled around when he made a permanent move into the centres. His first of eight appearances for the City Origin side came in 1988 before he went on to play for both NSW and Australia in the same year.
With 17 tries to his name that year, he was a big reason behind the Sharks winning the minor premiership in 1988 before they were bundled out of the finals in successive weeks.
A further 13 tries in 1990 continued ET’s good form and he was again rewarded with opportunities and games for both New South Wales and Australia, culminating in a 15-try haul in just 12 games including two hat-tricks.
ET’s personal success and popularity saw him on the cover of his own rugby league game which was released in 1992. Although the 1992 and 1993 seasons were tough for Ettinghausen due to injury and some form issues, he did still play for NSW and Australia at fullback.
1994 saw a changing of the guard with Ettinghausen named at captain to which he immediately responded, scoring 18 tries in just 18 games including a 5-try haul in one game. He also scored his 100th try for the club in 1994 before he enjoyed further success in the Australian test tour.
In 1997, Ettinghausen captained the side to a grand final, one in which they were ultimately unsuccessful in. He went on to play a total of 328 games for the club and held the record for the most games played by one player for one club before this was broken by Brisbane’s Darren Lockyer.
With 165 total tries in his career, Ettinghausen currently sits fourth on the list for most tries scored in a career.


5. Ray Corcoran – A key player for the Sharks during the late 60’s and into the 70’s, Ray Corcoran was a noted try-scorer and finished his career with 63 tries in total, currently the fifth highest by a Sharks player. An adept winger, his debut came during the 1968 seasons and he enjoyed eight seasons with the club before retiring. He made one appearance for the NSW Firsts side in 1970 and was playing on the wing during the club’s grand final loss in the 1973 NSWRFL premiership campaign.


6. Mat Rogers – A name synonymous with the Sharks, Mat is the son of Sharks legend Steve Rogers and a local junior to boot. Excelling at both rugby league and rugby union early on, Mat had to make a choice and chose rugby league.
Debuting in the centres in 1995, he formed a potent partnership in the back-line with Ettinghausen and then David Peachey at fullback in later years. His ball-running and ball-playing held him in good stead when the Sharks were attacking, Rogers ability was on show consistently.
Also a handy goal-kicker, he held numerous Sharks records at one point and scored 75 tries in total for the club that places him in the top five in that category. In 1998 and 1999, he played for Australia and Queensland respectively and went on to play 11 games for Australia and 5 games for the Blues.
Late on in his Sharks career, he expressed a desire to play more centre or fullback and was close to doing so, before he injured his rotator cuff after the Kangaroos successful World Cup campaign in 2000. His Sharks career came to a stagnated end as he was restricted due to minimal games after a shoulder reconstruction.
Rogers then went on to enjoy stints with rugby union side, the NSW Waratahs, and then the Gold Coast Titans.


7. Tommy Bishop – He may have only played 60 games for the Sharks but this British international left a lasting impression on the club, its fans and its legacy. One of their most influential play-makers, Bishop became the club’s captain/coach after the departure of Ken Kearney departed.
Whilst the 1970 season started on a high, the Sharks went on to lose seven consecutive games after that. However, they overcame the adversity and record one of their best wins with a fluid attacking display that would become a trademark of their play over the coming years.
1971 was the best in the club’s history at that time as they went on to win 10 games that year and almost made the finals. The season could have been better had Bishop not been injured after he snapped his Achilles tendon. Bishop was such a key to the Sharks side and they struggled without him, highlighting the importance he had to them and how talented he was.
Bishop eventually returned in 1973 and immediately returned to form as he guided the Sharks to a finals berth, losing just five games across the entire seasons. The same year saw the club make their maiden NRL premiership and whilst Bishop encouraged his young side to play a niggling, unsettling style of play to disrupt Manly, they lost narrowly and lost the grand final.
Despite that loss, however, it was the grittiness and tenacity of the side and the guidance of Bishop that has him forever etched in Sharks folklore as one of their greatest ever. In 2005, he has named as one of the club’s Immortals.


8. Paul Gallen – Love him or hate him, Paul Gallen is a genuine workhorse and revered by many Sharks fans for his leadership and work-rate. Enjoying a lengthy career at the club to date, Gallen made his club debut in 2001 and played two games that year. He made more of an impression in his second year, playing in 21 games and scoring his first ever try in first-grade.
In 2003, he received his first send-off, made 17 appearances and scored five tries. An elbow injury prevented Gallen from starting the 2004 season but he went on to play in 19 games that season and scored five tries in the process.
2005 saw the Sharks make the finals for the first time in Gallen’s career, although they failed to progress past the first round. 2005 was a good year for Gallen on a personal level, recording the most hit-ups and offloads of any player and receiving the Sharks’ Chairman Award as well as making 25 appearances.
Gallen almost failed to start the 2006 season but after opting to have back surgery to save his career, he made a recovery in just nine weeks and amazed the Sharks medical staff as a result. His first ever representative honour came in this year when he was selected for City in the City v Country clash. He also made his Origin debut in Game 3, thus beginning a lengthy stay in the NSW team for years to come.
He was also selected in the Prime Minister’s XIII side that year and went on to win the Sharks Supporters Player of the Year Award.
Speculation then reigned supreme as reports suggested Gallen wanted to depart the club in search of finals football. Despite all of that, he eventually signed a new long-term deal. An early injury during the 2007 pre-season saw Gallen start the season late but it continued to give him trouble in the upcoming rounds. The workhorse impressed as the season went on and was awarded the opportunity to make a maiden Test appearance but was pulled out due to a shoulder injury.
2008 was another tough year for the Sharks but there was reward for Gallen at the end of it, as he made his Australian Test debut at the Rugby League World Cup that year. Currently Sharks captain at that time, an incident in 2009 involving Mickey Paea and potential racial abuse saw Gallen stand down as captain. Gallen remained a mainstay of the NSW side over subsequent years.
In 2011, after further impressive performances for both club and state, Gallen was named the RLIF Lock of the Year. This was followed up in 2012 by the Dally M Lock of the Year Award.
Gallen was named NSW captain during the 2013 series and an incident involving Nate Myles on the field that saw punches thrown prompted the decision send any player who throws a punch to the sin-bin.
In 2014 came arguably the biggest moment of Gallen’s career but perhaps not for the right reasons. After much investigation and research, the ongoing drug scandal at the time came to a head. Gallen plead guilty to having used banned peptides and as a result, he was given a backdated ban from ASADA.
That year also marked the first time that NSW had won the Origin series after eight successive years of QLD glory, with Gallen captain of the side.
In recent years, Gallen has struggled with injury and has frustrated fans as a result by seemingly putting Origin commitments before club commitments. All was forgiven, though, as the greatest moment in Gallen’s career and for Sharks fans arised when in 2016, after years of coming close or falling at the final curtain, they won their maiden NRL premiership.


9. Dean Triester – A local Cronulla junior, Treister was yet another fan favourite during his 9 seasons with the club. Playing exclusively at hooker, he was quite creative in attack and led from the front, helping propel the team towards consistent attacking raids. His ability to control the game and the ruck also helped in making him a fan favourite.
Making his debut in 1995, Treister was a part of the Sharks 1997 team that made the grand final and throughout his Sharks career, he played in 161 games.
After an apparent falling out in 2003 due to club politics, Treister then departed the club and joined Hull FC.


10. Danny Lee – A tremendous tackler that brought fear into the attackers, Lee joined the Sharks in 1988 having previously played for the Country Firsts. The tireless prop gave many years of service to the Sharks club and enjoyed individual success when he won the 1995 Dally M Prop of the Year Award. He was also a member of the Sharks 1997 push towards the Super League grand final. A hard-runner and a hard-worker, Lee played a total of 212 games for the club and is in the club’s top five list for most games played.


11. Gavin Miller – A tale of two halves. That can sum up the career of Gavin Miller across his two NRL stints with a stint in England squished into the middle. Initially starting out with Western Suburbs, Miller then joined Easts before finally joining the Sharks in 1980. He eventually managed to hold down a permanent spot in the Sharks side during his first NRL stint and was selected to play for NSW. Though poor form crept into his game and he moved back to Easts.
Further poor form there led to a move to England with Hull KR and it is here that he became a changed player and a changed man. Showcasing a smooth and silky set of ball skills, his good form eventually led to the Man of Steel Award in 1985. Returning to the Sharks in 1986 a much better and more mature player, he did still start slowly but in 1988 is where things kicked off for Miller.
He developed an offload whilst in England and 1988 saw things kick into gear as his hole-running and offloading led to numerous Sharks breaks, sending players into gaps frequently. Despite his size – he was just 87kg and playing back-row – Miller’s feats and offloading ability led to a litany of tries that resulted in the club winning fifteen of their last seventeen games and the minor premiership.
Miller’s form was so good that despite not being picked to play Origin that year, Test selectors felt his form was too good to ignore and so they picked him for the game v Papua New Guinea.
Miller was at his best at the international level in the above game and was then named man of the match against a Rest of the World team.
Perhaps his finest year in the top flight came in 1989, though, when his ball-playing skills and kicking skills came to the fore, as he produced some brilliant attacking footy to take out the Dally M Player of the Year Award, the Rugby League Week Player of the Year Award and the Rothmans Medal. Unfortunately, injuries took their toll on Miller as the 1990 season came around and whilst he still had the odd glimpse of brilliance, he was eventually dropped back to reserve grade because of inconsistent form.
After his retirement, he was named as one of the Sharks five Immortals.


12. Dan Stains – Making his debut in 1987 for the Sharks, Stains was one of the more under-rated players in the Sharks set-up at the time. The quiet achiever but a hard-worker on the edges, the Toowoomba local enjoyed a career-best period in 1989 and 1990 when he also went on to represent Queensland on four occasions.
After being selected for Australia, Stains played in three minor games and had a brief stint at Halifax over that period. Injury-riddled, the next few seasons for Stains were hard going but he did have the honour of captaining the side in the absence of Andrew Ettinghausen.
Staying with the Sharks until the end of the 1994 season, he finished his career with two seasons at the Sydney Tigers.


13. Greg Pierce – Graded by Cronulla in 1969, Pierce came to the club at the same time as Tommy Bishop after Ken Kearney departed as coach. The first half of Pierce’s career was under the guidance and watchful eye of Bishop who was acting as captain-coach of the club at the time. He was involved in the Sharks 1973 grand final clash, regarded as one of the most brutal grand finals ever.
In 1975 when Bishop departed, Pierce became the club captain, a position he would hold until his own retirement in 1980.
A hard, aggressive player, Pierce was sent off during the finals series against the Western Suburbs and was given a 4-match ban. This resulted in Pierce missing both the grand final and the grand final replay.
Pierce did lead the Sharks to midweek victory in the 1979 Amco Cup but it was to be the only title he would win as a Shark, opting to retire in 1980 to move into coaching. Throughout his career, Pierce played for Australia, New South Wales and City Origin.
He would return to the Sharks and had a brief coaching stint with them in 1981 but after a poor season in 1982, he left the role.


14. Dane Sorenson – Sorenson was one of the rare occasions in which he played for his country New Zealand before playing in the NRL. Signing with the Sharks in 1977, he became the first Kiwi player to represent the side while based overseas. He enjoyed a lengthy career with the Sharks side and played his entire career with them except for one season in 1984 with the Eastern Suburbs team.
His service to the club was respected by many fans and the club itself and by the end of his career, his 228 games was the most by any Sharks player at the time passing Greg Pierce in the process. He then went on to become a club director at the club.


15. Nick Graham – A club stalwart during his stay with the Sharks, the local junior enjoyed a lengthy stint in the side’s team. A spirited performer, he remained true to the Sharks for quite a number of years and was adept as both a back-rower and a lock.
Whilst not a household name, he never sought out to be one. Rather, he went about his work diligently and effectively, establishing himself as a key player for the Sharks when it mattered.
At the back end of his career, he featured for City in the 2002 City v Country clash and could have stayed at the Sharks longer than he had, were it not for an apparent fallout with Chris Anderson in 2003. Graham, along with Dean Triester, were forced to look for new clubs and Graham opted to go to England for a stint with the Wigan Warriors before returning to the NRL in 2004 with the Wests Tigers.
2004 would be his last season in the NRL.


16. Mitch Healey – A new breed of half when he burst onto the scene, Healey excelled at the pinpoint cross-field kick towards towering wingers in a bid to score more tries in the air. Debuting in 1989 for the club, Healey would prove to be one of the club’s most consistent performers throughout the 1990’s as his organisational ability was on show for the entire NSWRL and NRL to see.
The focal point of the Sharks attack during those years, the one thing that eluded the nuggety little half were representative honours. In the end, his career highlight would have been making the 1998 SL grand final, even if it was one the Sharks went on to lose.
After 222 games, three different competitions and 12 seasons in the NRL, Healey departed and joined Super League side Castleford where he enjoyed some success over a three-year period.


17. David Hatch – Graded with the Sharks in 1978, Hatch forged a reputation as one of the most respected players among the Sharks fans at the time and even today. A smaller-framed forward than most, he carried himself above his weight and put his body on the line in attack and defence.
A representative in the Prime Minister XIII’s team in 1985 was a big moment in Hatch’s career but perhaps the biggest was his role in the club’s 1988 minor premiership. The club fought hard that year and their form justified their finish.
As captain, Hatch won two Dally M Captain of the Year Awards in 1985 and 1988. Unfortunately, a fractured cheekbone in 1990 ended his career somewhat prematurely.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.