Dale Finucane has become the latest prized piece in Craig Fitzgibbon's Sharks overhaul after they beat local rivals St George Illawarra to his signature.
The Sharks confirmed on Sunday that Finucane will join rookie coach Fitzgibbon in the Sutherland Shire next season on a four-year deal.
Cronulla offered a fourth year in their contract – which will see Finucane turn 34 in his final 2025 season – after the Dragons did likewise in their bid for the Storm co-captain.
It's believed Finucane will pocket around $2.5 million across the entirety of the deal.
NRL.com understands that final year sees Finucane's wage drop markedly from the first three seasons, with three-year offers from the Cowboys, Titans and Tigers also considered after Newcastle bowed out of the race after signing Dane Gagai.
Finucane's age and recent history of calf injuries were the only hesitation throughout negotiations from several competing clubs, with the Tigers weighing in late after also missing out on Tevita Pangai jnr.
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Cronulla's management of Paul Gallen through his autumn years with no drop-off in form played a part in the Sharks' long-term commitment, while Fitzgibbon and Finucane would appear cut from the same no-nonsense cloth as coach and player.
Finucane is slated for a middle role at either prop or lock alongside injured Dragons hooker Cameron McInnes, with both players leadership credentials indisputable.
Living in Sydney's south, where Finucane first set up shop during his Bulldogs days, was also an attraction for the 29-year-old.
Finucane's contribution to Melbourne over 142 games, two titles and four grand finals cannot be overstated.
The NSW Origin lock told Craig Bellamy and teammates of his decision on Sunday morning after committing to Cronulla late on Saturday night.
"I’ve been here seven years, played with some great players, enjoyed some success and had the chance to be coached by Craig, one of the best coaches in the history of the game," Finucane said in a Storm statement.
"I’m going to miss the people here, the friendships I’ve made and the way the club is.
"It’s hard to put it into words how much Storm means to me.
"I’m honoured to have had the chance to experience this club, what it stands for, and I’ll always look fondly on my time here."
For the Sharks Finucane's signing continues an impressive roster overhaul for when Fitzgibbon joins the club in November.
Storm teammate Nicho Hynes will arrive to play in the halves and shapes as a potential halfback option, with Fitzgibbon known to be a big fan of his "flat and fast" playmaking style from fullback this season.
Matt Moylan has also re-signed on a one-year deal that sees his salary drop by the best part of $500,000, with Brayden Trindall also expected to push for a starting halves spot next season.
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Finucane, Hynes and McInnes are the highest-profile signings in an evolving Sharks roster that will jettison big-earners Shaun Johnson, Josh Dugan and Aaron Woods next season.
Premiership-winning halfback Chad Townsend has already joined the Warriors en route to North Queensland next year, while Johnson will also return to the Warriors in 2022.
Fitzgibbon's influence and bond with Finucane over several years proved instrumental in the Sharks successful pursuit.
"Dale has a great relationship and respect for Craig [Fitzgibbon] through an association at representative level dating back to 2014 with NSW Country and more recently the NSW Origin team and Craig sees him a senior leader at the Club,” Sharks football manager Darren Mooney said.
"He is also someone who can help mentor our young team while setting standards and enhancing the culture we are looking to build."