BIG POND: Josh Cleleand has postponed his honeymoon to head to Sydney with wife Samatha to take up an NRL contract with the Cronulla Sharks.
BIG POND: Josh Cleleand has postponed his honeymoon to head to Sydney with wife Samatha to take up an NRL contract with the Cronulla Sharks. Kate Czerny

Wedding and NRL deal in same week

JOSH Cleeland may have been married on Thursday, but any thoughts of a honeymoon are on hold for a while.

Cleeland and his bride Samantha are off to Sydney tomorrow, not for a holiday but to try to find a place to live.

The reason is the Ipswich Jets five-eighth has signed a contract to play rugby league with the Cronulla Sharks for the 2016 season.

Cleeland also had interest in his services from the Brisbane Broncos and Penrith Panthers.

But the direct involvement of Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan is what convinced him to head to the Shire.

"The coach wanted me the most," Cleeland said.

"He got in contact with my manager.

"If the coach wants you it means something.

"The Broncos had signed a few other halves not long ago while the Panthers couldn't get rid of some of theirs and they weren't offering me as much."

Since agreeing to join the Sharks Cleeland has not had any second thoughts.

Nor is he nervous about the prospect of becoming a small fish in a very large pond and having to prove himself all over again.

"I can't wait to get down there and have a go," he said.

"I'm not as nervous as yesterday (before my wedding)."

It was at the start of the 2015 season, with the words of coaches Ben and Shane Walker in his ears, that Cleeland set his sights on the NRL.

"Last year was good but I probably wasn't fit enough," he said.

"This year I was fitter so it was a lot easier to do what I needed to do.

"I asked the coaches if they thought I could make the next level and they said I could.

"That gave me confidence."

All Cleeland has achieved has come the hard way, since returning to the Jets following a knee reconstruction four years ago.

But he is still struggling to believe how well things have panned out.

Happily married with an NRL contract in his grasp, it is more than he could have dreamed of.

"The whole year I've just been pinching myself," he said.

"It just feels weird.

"It was always a dream to play NRL.

"But as a kid you never think you can do it.

"All my friends had the same dream.

"I'm glad I didn't stop and kept going."



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