Josh Morris has personally assured his Cronulla teammates of his commitment to their cause in 2020 after pursuing a release to join his brother Brett at the Roosters.
Morris provided more than his share of the Sharks' highlights in their brief NRL Nines campaign in Perth, scoring a hat-trick in 10 minutes as they downed Canterbury yet failed to progress past the tournament's pool stages.
The veteran centre declined interviews after dominating headlines for the past week, having had his release request knocked back by Cronulla coach John Morris.
While Brett has publicly declared he would still like to see his brother's request considered, teammate Aaron Woods says Josh Morris addressed the Sharks playing group earlier in the week and if anything had stepped up his commitment to training since news of his release request broke.
"He just told the boys, he was honest and he's always been honest," Woods said.
"He said: This is what's happened, blah, blah, blah, and we respect that. It's not like he's dropping the shoulder and coming in and being angry and trying to duck and weave.
"He's come in and just been Josh and that's why he's a great leader of the club. It's probably a good opportunity for him to go there (the Roosters) but as a player at the Cronulla Sharks, I don't want to let a leader like that go. He's a leader and a role model."
Morris joined his teammates a day late in Perth following the birth of his son last week.
He went straight from the airport into a captain's run in 35C WA heat before playing both Cronulla's Nines games over the weekend.
While the Sharks are flush for outside backs the losses of Paul Gallen, Matt Prior, Kurt Capewell, Jayden Brailey and Sosaia Feki amounts to almost 1000 games of experience departing the club since last year.
As a result Cronulla's hierarchy have been emphatic about Morris – who boasts 286 NRL games, 15 Origins for NSW and another six Test caps for Australia – seeing out his contract in 2020.
Woods can understand Morris's position as well as any in the game.
"Things happen in rugby league, you know? I signed a four-year deal with the Bulldogs and six months later I was at the Cronulla Sharks," the burly prop said.
"Things happen and it's not always the player's fault. Things happen behind the scenes at clubs that we don't know what goes on.
"To his credit he's come back and ripped in. Three tries today, he had a kid last week and he's jumped on the plane to play with the boys so it shows the character of the bloke.
"He's been enormous. His numbers at training have been phenomenal and you can tell, it's the fittest he's been in a long time.
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"He had a great pre-season. I think he missed one or two sessions and that's because his wife had a baby."
Woods reported that his own pre-season – his first full summer of training in six or seven years – has him in good nick as well.
He is sizing up a starting role for the first since arriving at Cronulla 18 months ago with Gallen and Prior leaving a hefty hole in the Sharks engine room.
"I'm usually chasing my tail in January when all the boys are firing so it was good to actually come back and actually be fit at this stage of the year," Woods said.
"You lose someone like Gal with his experience going into every game, you know you've got that bloke next to you and he's a true warrior.
"We need people to step up and that includes myself and (Andrew) Fifita."