Cronulla have snared one of the hottest players on the NRL market by signing Melbourne fullback Nicho Hynes to a three-year-deal from next season.
Despite playing just 22 NRL games, the 24-year-old has been one of the most in-demand players on the market and his signature is a huge boost for incoming Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.
Several clubs including St George Illawarra and Brisbane were in hot pursuit of the rising young star but a meeting with Fitzgibbon sealed the deal.
Hynes told Storm teammates in camp on the Sunshine Coast on Tuesday after agreeing to terms with the Sharks.
“I love the Melbourne Storm and deciding to leave was one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make in my life,” he said.
“Storm has made me who I am not only on the field but off the field as well.
“All the coaches and players have not only been great supporters of my rugby league career, but also the journey I’m on in my life.”
Hynes is able to play in the halves or at fullback and his versatility will add to the Sharks side as Fitzgibbon pieces together his squad for next season.
Dragons hooker Cameron McInnes is also set to join next season, while Toby Rudolf, Will Kennedy and Connor Tracey have all recently re-signed.
Hynes’ signing will also put pressure on Sharks five-eighth Matt Moylan, who remains off contract at the end of 2021.
Storm general manager Frank Ponissi said the club wanted to keep Hynes but could not guarantee him a starting position behind Cameron Munster, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Jahrome Hughes.
“Nicho came to us on a train-and-trial contract from the Sunshine Coast Falcons with nothing guaranteed after that and ended up as a NRL premiership player with plenty more great football in front of him,” Ponissi said.
“He has worked hard and has got the rewards.
“We would have loved to have been in a position to extend Nicho’s time with Storm, but unfortunately, with his desire for a regular starting spot and the pressures of the salary cap that hasn’t been possible.
“Nicho is an outstanding footballer, but just as importantly is an outstanding young man who is loved and respected by everyone at Storm.”