You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Sharks utility Connor Tracey.

From being the NRL team's ball-boy to playing his junior footy across the road from Shark Park, it seems Connor Tracey was destined to represent Cronulla.

And on Saturday night Tracey will realise his childhood dream of playing first grade for the Sharks, following in the footsteps of his father Craig, who featured in 10 NSWRL games in the 1980s.

The 23-year-old Tracey will come off the bench as a utility against his former team South Sydney at ANZ Stadium.

"I used to be the ball-boy when I was 12, in year six. I did it for two seasons," the De La Salle junior told

"That was pretty cool. And then obviously my dad played, so I always wanted to play for the Sharks, for sure.

"It's going to be massive to put that jersey on and get a debut number. It's going to be a proud moment for myself and my family."

Having almost been forced into premature retirement after three consecutive ACL tears, Tracey fought back to make his Telstra Premiership debut with the Rabbitohs last year.

Rabbitohs v Sharks - Round 1

A big pre-season in which he didn't miss a single session upon returning to Cronulla, where he came through the junior rep ranks, has earned him the No.14 jumper for round one.

Tracey, a natural halfback, is prepared to play any position including hooker, where he could give Blayke Brailey a spell.

"As a half you know everyone's role in the team, so I'm confident [of being] chucked anywhere," Tracey said.

"It's just your defence, really, getting that right. Attack I'm pretty confident with. If I aim up in defence, which I'm pretty sure I will, it'll be sweet.

"I played a bit of fullback when I was younger and then I moved to five-eighth. I played a bit of hooker, maybe half a game or something, I never really played it that much."

Tracey only departed Cronulla in 2017 because he was stuck behind premiership-winning halves Chad Townsend and James Maloney and craved a fresh start after a nightmare injury run.

He "learnt a lot" in his time at Redfern, picking up tips from Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds and playing under three top coaches in Michael Maguire, Anthony Seibold and Wayne Bennett.

But he immediately jumped at the chance to go home.

"I moved to the city in my last year at Souths but I always grew up here [in the Sutherland Shire]," Tracey said.

"I go fishing and surfing, so I missed the lifestyle. Living in the city for a bit, I missed the beach. 

"It was definitely good to come back and to come into a young team that's building and has a solid forward pack, it's exciting."

Meanwhile, prop Aaron Woods scuppered talk that Cronulla will be unsettled by a turbulent few months with injuries, administration changes and a drawn-out release to centre Josh Morris.

Injured Dugan determined to prove NRL career isn’t over

"Obviously there's been a bit of drama. It's rugby league ... It's the game that keeps on giving, isn't it?" Woods said.

"I don't know if you thrive on it, but sometimes it can make or it can break you. Obviously in the past it's sort of made the Sharks.

"It's like anywhere you go, there's drama everywhere. It's just how you handle it."

Morris's departure adds to a mass exodus of experience with Paul Gallen and Matt Prior also bidding the side farewell.

Woods, who is fighting fit after a foot injury hampered his 2019, declared it's no excuse for an underwhelming campaign.

"Teams can use it as a rebuilding phase but that's rubbish mate," he said. "We don't want to do that, we just want to move into it."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners