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Sharks stand by 'good bloke' Chambers in war of words

Toby Rudolf reckons he hated Will Chambers "more than anyone growing up" as a Blues tragic, but he now can't speak highly enough of his under-fire Sharks teammate.

Rudolf was one of several Cronulla players to defend Chambers on Wednesday with the centre in the spotlight for his sledging tactics.

Chambers has been dropped to the reserves for Sunday's clash with the Knights after a performance in which he verbally baited the Warriors and was the target of two punches from Kane Evans.

Warriors boss Cameron George told The Australian that Chambers made "very personal" remarks while former NRL star Issac Luke tweeted (then deleted) he'd put fellow Sharks players offside.

However, there was nothing but praise for the off-contract 33-year-old during Cronulla's mid-week media session.

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"I'm the only one who lives on the eastern side of Sydney along with Will, so we car pooled together for the first few weeks at training for quite a while and I got to know him as a person," Rudolf said.

"I probably hated him more than anyone growing up, I was a staunch Blues [State of Origin] supporter and couldn't stand the Storm winning and couldn't stand his sledging on the field.

"I actually got to know him and he's been unreal. Like most sledgers on the field, he's a really good bloke off it. He always has time for another person's needs and has time to allow you to get to know him.

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"Any sort of insight you need in regards to rugby league, he's just an encyclopedia of knowledge for that. And he's never one to say he's too busy or anything, he's always the first one to help."

With a wealth of experience having played for Queensland and Australia, Rudolf advocated for Chambers to be re-signed.

"The perception that I had of him was just completely wrong because all I saw was what happens 80 minutes a week and he seemed like an absolute ning-nong, for lack of a better word," Rudolf said.

"You think he'd be a derrick not knowing him, but once you actually get to know him, he's definitely not a derrick.

"He's quite the opposite of that. I'm not too sure what the opposite of derrick is, but when I find out I'll let you know."

Hooker Blayke Brailey said Chambers was holding up well despite being demoted from the starting side amid the criticism.

"He's OK, he's still got a smile on his face. He's still at training putting his best foot forward, he's a true professional," Brailey said.

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"He's been in some great sides and as a young player, I really look up to him. How he's carried himself the last week is really impressive."

Powerhouse centre Jessie Ramien also lauded Chambers's influence and said his fierce competitiveness belies his kindhearted nature.

Meanwhile, Rudolf - who is nothing if not refreshingly honest and entertaining - described his own recent output as "rubbish".

"I had a very strong start to the season, I haven't been able to find that form [again]," the 25-year-old lock said.

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"I've been watching old tapes and seeing what's changed from the start of the year to this point of the year. Still sort of yet to talk to the coaches about how I can improve my form.

"[I'm] doing my job but just taking part. I don't really want to take part, I want to be a player that's not revered or feared or anything like that, but just a good player. I don't think I'm playing to the best of my ability at this point which is a bit frustrating."

Tenth-placed Cronulla's finals aspirations will nosedive if they fall to Newcastle, who are one win ahead and directly above on the ladder.

Brailey is keen to return serve to older brother Jayden after the rival No.9's team scored a 26-22 victory in round six.

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"The next few days I'm sure we'll be on the same family group chat sending some fiery words back at each other," Blayke said. "It definitely happened last game and it will definitely happen this game again."

As for who's the better player?

"I think we'll have to answer that after the game, whoever gets the points we'll have to give that credit to," Brailey said.

Rudolf, however, has no doubt.

"We'll be definitely looking to get one back on Jayden this week and prove that Blayke is the superior Brailey," he quipped.

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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.

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