Teig Wilton has revealed he is hopeful of remaining at Cronulla long-term, despite growing interest from rival NRL clubs to secure the second-rower for 2024.
The 23-year-old has emerged as an important part of the Sharks’ outfit in recent years, scoring nine tries in 46 appearances in the top grade.
Wilton has usurped former skipper Wade Graham for the starting edge role in the Shire and is expected to push for a State of Origin berth with NSW later this year.
After debuting for the Sharks three years ago, Wilton has cemented himself in the lineup under head coach Craig Fitzgibbon – but there is still no deal locked in for next year and beyond.
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According to a report from Wide World Of Sports, the Narooma product has attracted interest from up to six NRL outfits, with the Rabbitohs reportedly in the box-seat should he decide to leave Cronulla given his uncle John Morris is assistant coach at the club.
But in a recent interview withThe Sporting News, Wilton admitted he had no desire to jump ship and is expecting to re-sign with the Sharks sooner rather than later.
“There’s nothing to talk about now,” he said.
“That’s all in the works now – hopefully it all works out and I stay at Cronulla.
“I love this club and I will be looking forward to hanging around.”
Wilton has struck up an exciting attacking combination with five-eighth Matt Moylan on the left-side, but the pair had a rough night defensively in Round 1 against the Bunnies.
With a settled roster at Cronulla and spending more time working on their combinations, Wilton is expecting them to remain near the top of the table in 2023.
“We’ve all been playing together for a while now and that can only help us,” he said.
“We’re understanding how each player plays and getting those relationships and building on them. It can only benefit us by playing more seasons together with the same squad.
“It’s just having that time together and getting the reps in…he [Moylan] has been a great player for a long time and he is an instinctual footy player and he creates a lot of opportunities around him.”
Wilton’s emergence has seen the club’s long-standing leader shifted to the interchange this year, and Graham will now miss the next four weeks due to suspension for a high shot on Davvy Moale.
Despite playing and competing for the same position, Wilton continues to use Graham as a sounding board in the early stages of what promises to be a lengthy first grade career.
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“Obviously we are playing the same position, but Wade has been awesome to me my whole career, on the field and off the field,” he said.
“He’s a natural leader and a stand-up bloke and he has been awesome for me.
“Ever since I stepped into first grade all the way up until now, I still lean on him for advice and he’s more than happy to give it.”
Cronulla will look to bounce back from their opening round loss to South Sydney when they take on the Eels on Friday night.