Cruz Topai-aveai Signs Cronulla Sharks Deal
Shirley Boys’ High School product Cruz Topai-aveai’s barnstorming form for the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ NYC team has earned him a lucrative three-year deal with defending NRL premiers Cronulla Sharks from 2018.
Topai-aveai was a standout during Shirley 1st XV’s charge to the 2016 UC Championship final, attracting the interest of the Rabbitohs, linking with the famous club over the summer.
The powerhouse forward was one of Souths Under-20s’ best over the opening five rounds of this year’s competition, culminating in a performance against North Queensland that included a try and 208 metres from 12 runs, plus 26 tackles.
Topai-aveai suffered an injury against Penrith a week later, however, ending his bid for a Junior Kiwis debut during last weekend’s Rep Round.
Still only 18, the tyro is an excellent pick-up for an ageing Sharks roster that includes seven forwards who are 29 or older, including 35-year-olds Paul Gallen and Chris Heighington.
Meanwhile, with the Rabbitohs struggling near the foot of the NRL ladder this year and lacking engine-room grunt, a first grade call-up before he heads to the Shire isn’t out of the question.