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NRL: Fitzgibbon cools exodus fears

New Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon remains calm despite the possibility of a mass player exodus hitting the club over the next 12 months.

The Sharks are priced at 17/1 to win the 2022 NRL grand final and will be lead by rookie coach Fitzgibbon after he made the switch from the Sydney Roosters.

Off-contract stars

Captain Wade Graham is set to fall out of contract this year, while Briton Nikora, Braden Hamlin-Uele, Jack Williams, Royce Hunt, Andrew Fifita, Aiden Tolman, Matt Moylan and Mawene Hiroti have yet to commit for 2023.

With expansion team the Dolphins among the clubs looking to recruit ahead of their first NRL season in 2023 there is a danger of the Sharks losing some key players.

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Even so Fitzgibbon says the club have a plan in place to retain the players they want to keep and they will be keeping a cool head.

"We're trying to stick to that plan and talk to some guys we want to keep around," Fitzgibbon told AAP. "It's important not to overreact to anything at this stage. We're stable and hopefully the environment, allows the players to want to stay and play for the Sharks.

"We want to be competitive and try not to lose our own players, but it can get very hard in the marketplace."

Graham to stay skipper

Meanwhile Fitzgibbon has confirmed that Graham will stay as captain and lead the Sharks in the 2022 season after returning to full fitness.

The second-rower suffered a number of worrying head knocks in the second half of last season but has had a solid pre-season and is now back to full health.

"He's been remarkably durable," Fitzgibbon said of the 31-year-old. "He's in good spirits, he's really happy, he's been a really good performer throughout the pre-season."

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