The Cronulla Sharks face a tough battle to retain 24-year-old prop Toby Rudolf with the New Zealand Warriors clinging to a deal made with him.
During the COVID-19 shutdown of the NRL season, Rudolf penned a three-year deal from next season with the Warriors, however the Sydney Morning Herald reports he is now seeking to opt out of that contract due to a “family health issue”.
And he has Sharks coach John Morris in his corner.
“Any player you hand out their NRL debut to, you don’t want to lose them, and Toby certainly knows that,” Morris said.
“It would be a huge loss if he went.
“I love him as a person.
“I had no doubt he was going to end up in our 17, just the effort he plays with and the energy he plays with is unbelievable.”
The Warriors are reportedly equally keen to keep Rudolf to the deal, bringing on a stalemate between the clubs as discussions are ongoing.
Rudolf has been one of the brightest stars in the Sharks team in 2020 in the final season of his two-year contract with the Shire side. He overcame a devastating ACL injury in the beginning of 2019 but has een a force on the comeback trail with the Newtown Jets.
“He’s been in Newtown for a couple of years, and he’s a bit of a cult figure there,” NRL legend Brad Fittler told Wide World of Sports.
Cronulla’s feeder team the Jets won the Canterbury Cup and NRL State Championship title and Rudolf was a pivotal part of that team’s success.
Eighth Immortal Andrew Johns was stunned at Rudolf’s performance recently for the Sharks in the NRL, and said despite that ACL injury, his speed remains one of his best assets as a prop.
“Toby Rudolph, he’s a tearaway,” Johns said.
“Geez I’m impressed with him. One thing I noticed about him is his acceleration. He can go from standing still to near top speed in three or four paces.”