Sharks forward Jayson Bukuya has thrived since moving back to the club in 2015.

The 2014 NRL Telstra Premiership season was one of the worst in the Cronulla Sharks' storied history.

 

The Sharks were forced to use a whopping 36 players (including nine debutants) in a season where veteran trio Andrew Fifita, skipper Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis failed to play a single game together. 

Being forced to deal with well-documented ASADA dramas and a massive injury toll including the mid-season retirements of John Morris and Beau Ryan; the Sharks finished with the wooden spoon.

Sharks back-rower Jayson Bukuya's only season not at the club since his NRL debut eight years ago was 2014, but he was at that same time facing his own issues. 

Bukuya signed a two-year deal with the New Zealand Warriors but only lasted 12 months before leaving due to personal reasons.

The 27-year-old said his time across the ditch made him appreciate his stint at the Sharks and his subsequent return even more. 

"[My family and I] missed a lot of things when we left the Sharks for the Warriors just in the way of lifestyle and the support of those close to us considering the young family I have," Bukuya told NRL.com. 

"We had a baby over there but she had to come back here to Australia for a little period of time so I was in New Zealand on my own for a bit there. 

"It was just better for us to be in Australia. The support we had previously played a huge role in wanting to come back, because of the friendships that we built here before we left."

Remarkably Bukuya will now line up for the Sharks from the bench in Sunday's grand final against the Melbourne Storm. 

If coach Shane Flanagan had his way, he would never have let Bukuya leave the club.

 


"We were disappointed he went. The Warriors made him a good offer but he couldn't wait to come back to tell you the truth," Flanagan said.

"It was great to get him back at the club. He's a quality player and quality person. I thought his performance last weekend was probably one of his better ones for the club as well. He was outstanding."

The Fiji international returned to the Sharks last year and was instantly amazed by the club's turnaround. 

Bukuya believes this is the best Sharks squad he's been a part of, achieving feats they've never done previously. 

"We always knew we were a good side who played finals here or there but we didn't really nail it so to speak. We were always a little bit off," he said.

"But this year I feel we have nailed parts of our game that we needed to and we're a lot better side because of it.

"Everyone is on board and buying into the game plan, from 1-17. The commitment we have for one another I think shows we're willing to put our bodies on the line for each other too."

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