Josh Cleeland signs contract to join Cronulla Sharks
THURSDAY, October 22 will be a day forever etched in the mind of Josh Cleeland.
The Ipswich Jets five-eighth got married to long time sweet-heart Samantha Zhanow and it was announced he had signed a National Rugby League contract with the Cronulla Sharks.
Cleeland confirmed the deal with the Queensland Times just an hour before getting hitched at Brookwater.
The 24--year-old played an integral role in the Jets' Queensland Cup premiership and State Championship success this season.
He joins 2015 Jets teammates Rod Griffin and Billy McConnachie (Penrith) as members of the team who have since signed NRL contracts for next season.
Cleeland has signed a one-year contract with an option for a second and is initially likely to be a back up to Sharks play makers Chad Townsend and James Maloney.
It was only three seasons ago Cleeland was crowned the Ipswich Rugby League player of the year after his year with Swifts in the Ipswich A grade competition.
But Jets coaches Ben and Shane Walker, who have repeatedly praised his raw footballing instincts and toughness over the past two seasons, knew he was destined for the NRL.
This year, Cleeland's second in the top grade at the Jets, has seen him take on a more vocal leadership role on the field, with an increasingly influential kicking game complimenting his powerful running game and rugged defence.
Chris Walker, the Jets centre and coaches' younger brother, even went as far as to compare him to the likes of Darren Lockyer and Brad Fittler.
"If he's not an NRL player then I'm not here," Chris said.
"He's a wonderful talent.
"It's a privilege to play outside him.
"The instincts he ahs for the game are second to none.
"That includes Lockyer and Fittler."