Rookie Sharks prop Toby Rudolf has vowed to "bring the intensity" if he's picked for round one after surging towards an NRL debut with a standout trial against Manly.
The 24-year-old looks short odds to earn a berth in Cronulla's side to face South Sydney on March 14 having starred in the 28-16 win at Netstrata Jubilee Oval in Kogarah last Sunday night.
Rudolf provided an instant spike in energy when he came off the bench, routinely denting the defence and often taking multiple carries in the same set. He was rewarded with a second-half try.
Rudolf, who helped the Newtown Jets to the Canterbury Cup and NRL State Championship titles last year after returning from an ACL injury, won't change his all-out approach in first grade.
"[I'll] just run hard, tackle hard, bring the intensity, bring the hunt, bring the intent that I bring into my Cup games and just try to play the same level I play there," Rudolf said after the Sea Eagles trial.
"I don't want to get the hopes up just yet, no team's been announced and some boys absolutely killed it, not just myself.
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"I'm ready to go round one but if it doesn't happen, I'm ready to go for Newtown as well."
A debut would be a testament to the perseverance of Rudolf, who recently told NRL.com that he almost gave away rugby league in 2017 after struggling to crack the top level with the Rabbitohs.
He moved to the Redcliffe Dolphins in 2018 and his good form led to Cronulla signing him on a two-year deal – the first season of which was set back by his knee injury.
Sharks coach John Morris said Rudolf has "definitely done enough to put his name forward" for an interchange jumper.
"He's been one who's certainly put his hand up the whole pre-season. He showed a lot of promise at the back end of last year for Newtown," Morris said.
"He's had a really good pre-season. The last hurdle for him was to trial well and he was strong up there in PNG [against the Bulldogs] last week and I thought he was really good [against Manly].
"We're clearly short there [in the middle] with Matty Prior going, but we've got a lot of others there. We had seven forwards on our bench [on Sunday] and I thought they all did quite well, so it's going to be a headache to try and trim that down."
Rudolf's ability to play second row as well as prop could give him an edge over the competition.
Despite impressing Morris, Rudolf acknowledged he'll need to step up in class again in the Telstra Premiership, having already noticed the increased physicality in the pre-season fixtures.
As for his dominant performance versus the Sea Eagles, there was one aspect that annoyed him.
"I only get one try a season, so that doesn't get me off the nudie run either. It feels good but my one for the season is done now, so that's a shame," he said.
Even without playing an NRL game, Rudolf enjoys cult status among some Sharks fans. He reckons it's due to his luscious locks.
"The only reason is my hair – I know if I shave it that'll end, so I'll keep it as long as I can," he laughed.