Michael Ennis will finish his career as a Shark after agreeing to a two-year deal with the Shire outfit.
The moves ends months of speculation over the future of the Canterbury captain, with Cronulla expected to announce the news as soon as this week.
The Sharks were desperate for a quality hooker after the Bulldogs prised young gun Michael Lichaa from their grasp earlier this year, although that signing is also yet to be officially announced.
Incumbent Cronulla rake John Morris will retire at the end of the year, while back-up dummy half Isaac De Gois was recently granted a release to play for Parramatta as cover for the injured Nathan Peats.
Ennis, who has a strong relationship with Ricky Stuart from their time together at Origin level, was also courted by Canberra, but his signature came down to a race in two. The 32-year-old is highly regarded at Canterbury but they could not compete with the money on offer from the Sharks.
Ennis has been one of the key figures behind Canterbury's resurgence, playing 121 of his 207 NRL games at the ''Family Club''. Most of them have been as skipper, although coach Des Hasler appointed Frank Pritchard as co-captain this season. Pritchard has been sidelined through injury for much of the year and it remains to be seen whether Hasler will appoint another captain for next year's campaign.
News that he is moving on is likely to come as a shock to Ennis' Bulldogs teammates, who were hoping he would stay put. The former Knights, Dragons and Broncos hooker is considered one of the most competitive players in the NRL and has been described as a mentor by NSW half Josh Reynolds.
Ennis himself has represented the Blues on seven occasions and was a frontrunner to add to the tally if Robbie Farah had not overcome injury in time for Origin I.
The development is likely to strengthen the resolve of his Canterbury teammates to send him out a winner.
The decision to sign with a Sydney club will also help a burgeoning media career after he has impressed in commentary stints with Fox Sports.
It is also welcome news for Cronulla, who have lurched from one crisis to another since the so-called ''darkest day in Australian sport''. The Sharks have been hit, directly or indirectly, to the tune of about A$4 million since the drugs in sport saga surfaced.
It is expected that 17 Cronulla players from the 2011 squad, 15 of them who remain at the club, will be served with show-cause notices from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority in the near future.
Languishing on the bottom of the ladder alongside Newcastle, the Sharks host Manly on Saturday.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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