Cronulla have secured another piece of their premiership-winning squad after announcing the re-signing of halfback Chad Townsend until the end of the 2020 NRL season.
Townsend's extension is likely to end speculation the club are considering pursuing off-contract playmakers in Melbourne's Cooper Cronk and Canterbury's Josh Reynolds.
"Chad is a local junior, a member of our premiership winning team and a very important member of our side," Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said on Friday.
"While James Maloney and Chad are different types of players, they work well together and Chad is still relatively young and has some of his best football in front of him."
After making his NRL debut with the club six years ago, Townsend spent two seasons with the Warriors in 2014 and 2015 before returning home to help the Sharks break their title drought last year.
The 26-year-old is the sixth player to re-commit to the club this season after Sosaia Feki, Wade Graham, Valentine Holmes, Matt Prior and Kurt Capewell.
Townsend joins Prior as the only players signed on past 2019.
"The guys who have committed for the next couple of years made me want to stick around and to be a part of that core group moving forward," Townsend said.
"We want to continue that success here at the Sharks."
Townsend's re-signing comes less than a day after reports that NRL stars Aaron Woods, Kieran Foran and James Tedesco have agreed to move clubs, ensuring the player market is in full swing.
It also comes hours after Flanagan declared his interest in players who could be squeezed out at rival clubs, including Canterbury captain James Graham.
"It'll be interesting to see who falls out," Flanagan said.
"We're always interested in good players and if they become available we'll definitely have a look at them.
"James Graham... all those players if they do become available, we'll have a look and see if they fit our roster and our cap."
Skipper Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Chris Heighington, Gerard Beale and Sam Tagataese are the Sharks players from last year's triumphant side that are uncontracted beyond the end of this season.
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