Cronulla say being linked with Test star Luke Lewis is confirmation of their emergence as one of the NRL’s top teams.
Lewis was earlier this week granted a release from the final two years of his contract with Penrith and the NSW Origin backrower has been linked to a move to the Sharks due to his friendship with several players at the club.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said he is yet to speak to Lewis or his manager Greg Willett but welcomed reports the Sharks are one club Lewis is keen on joining for the 2013 season.
“For Test and Origin players to be interested in our club, to want to come to our club is really important,” Flanagan said on Thursday.
“The perception of this place has changed over the last couple of years.
“Hopefully over the next month with approval of the development the club will be out of debt and it will be all roads looking forward for the club.
“It is a real positive where the club is headed at the moment, and the team doing a good job on the park is making it a little bit easier.
“I haven’t spoken to Luke or his management yet. It is something I am planning on doing, but I don’t think there is a rush to it.”
St George Illawarra, Parramatta and the Wests Tigers are other clubs rumoured to be a possible new home for Lewis.
But Sharks prop Ben Ross, who shared the Panthers 2003 premiership triumph with Lewis, said Cronulla would be a perfect fit for the Australia representative.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Ross said.
“I have known Luke for a number of years being out at Penrith with him.
“To have someone like him linked to the club actually shows people are really excited about coming here and how far we have come and how well we are going with our recruitment at the moment.
“And that’s thanks to Flanno (Flanagan) and all he has done here.
“Luke is a funny guy, he is good mates with a few of the guys here like Wade Graham and he would fit in perfectly and I’m sure he would enjoy the beach lifestyle out here.”