Sharks hail Fifita as all-time club great

·2-min read

Wade Graham has hailed Andrew Fifita as the finest front-rower in Cronulla's history after the Sharks fell short in their bid to farewell the star prop with a second premiership.

Fifita's 11-year stay with Cronulla ended with Saturday night's 38-12 beating from South Sydney, sending the Sharks out in straight sets from second on the ladder.

One of the competition's most threatening teams all year, the Sharks were ultimately let down by their defence when it mattered, with 70 points conceded in two finals defeats.

Saturday's loss also brought to a close Aiden Tolman's career on 317 NRL matches, ending his status as the most capped current player still playing.

Cronulla's roster will otherwise stay largely unchanged for next season, with Graham's future still up in the air but the captain confident he will get a deal done.

But in Fifita, the Sharks have lost one of the heartbeats of Cronulla.

The Tongan international willed the club to their only premiership with his power up front in 2016, and has managed to turn over a new leaf this season after last year's fractured larynx.

"It's hard to put into words how good he's been for the club," Graham said.

"He's the best front-rower the club's had. He's a legend of the club. His iconic try in the grand final helped deliver the first premiership to the club.

"So, as disappointing as it is tonight that we couldn't continue that journey further, those two guys can certainly look back and hold their heads high."

Fifita is still hopeful of playing on elsewhere next year, but finishes as the Sharks' seventh most-capped player with 212 matches as well as a member of the club's team of the half-century in 2016.

Tolman spent only two years at Cronulla, after making his name under Craig Bellamy in Melbourne and then playing two grand finals at Canterbury.

"At the three clubs he's been at, you could talk to all his teammates, how reliable he is, how much you trust him out on the field," Graham said.

"He is no nonsense around training, how he trains. He's just a good guy. Good club man. Good person, good family man. And that showed.

"He's played over 300 games. Not many people do that in that fashion as well, the fashion he has."