Sharks deal for Gardner

Cronulla have secured the services of rookie fullback Nathan Gardner for a further three years.

Gardner, 20, burst on to the NRL scene in emphatic style in 2010 and was awarded the competition’s Try of the Year for a spectacular 90-metre effort against the Roosters in Round 13.

And after committing the next three seasons to the club, the former Cabramatta  junior said the deal was the perfect Christmas present.

“It’s exactly what I wanted,” Gardner said.

“I didn’t want to start the season off contract so it’s good to know I’ll be here for at least another three years.

“I couldn’t be happier with the club, everyone has been amazing and I love playing for the Sharks.”

Gardner finished top try scorer for the Sharks in 2010 and equal with winger Luke Covell in the top points scorer stakes, weighing in with 54.

But the youngster is keen to back up his 2010 form into next year and beyond.

“2010 was obviously a massive year for myself in so many ways,” he added.

“I joined the club at the start of the season and was just hoping to get one game under my belt, but I ended up playing sixteen straight and couldn’t have asked for anymore.”

“My big test now is to really cement the fullback spot and make it my own and to do that I need to keep improving my game and playing consistent footy.”

Coach Shane Flanagan says he hopes that Gardner will remain a part of the club for a long time to come.

“It’s great news for the Sharks and I’d like to think Nathan will be our fullback for the next five to ten years,” Flanagan said.

“I look back at some of the successful Sharks era’s and they’ve all had a quality fullback like Peachey and Docking.

“I had doubts about his size early on, but I’m confident Nathan can be that player and really stamp his authority on the game.

“He had a brilliant first season, scoring two length of the field tries and he has certainly taken some steps during the pre season to ensure 2011 will be just as good, if not better.”

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