Toby Rudolf.
Sharks forward Toby Rudolf is making some big calls to get the best out of himself for season 2024. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Booze bans and ballet on Rudolf’s list of resolutions

George Clarke December 20, 2023

Toby Rudolf will turn to a ballet expert and go on a self-imposed booze ban as he bids to solve a chronic toe injury that has left him craving the pain of a tortuous pre-season training session.

The happy-go-lucky Cronulla prop continues to suffer from a painful case of turf toe despite having surgery in April this year.

While his teammates have been put through the ringer over the summer, Rudolf has been restricted to walking laps of Shark Park and circuits on a stationary bike to minimise the inflammation.

And the prop says he’s willing to try his hand at anything to ensure he is in top shape for round one.

“I’ve got turf toe but it’s the extreme end of it and my joint (at the base of my big toe) is just staying angry,” Rudolf told AAP.

“I’ve been sent to see the head physio at the Australian Ballet … I’m not expecting magic hands but hopefully she can let us know where we’re going with our programme and hopefully she says we’re on the right track.

“A couple of sessions where it’s 40C, I don’t mind being on the sideline shouting, ‘Go on boys, you’ve got this’.

“But in all seriousness, that’s where you build your connection and trust as a team, going through the hurt locker is how you get closer – although it sounds weird I love going through that hardship.”

Toby Rudolf.
 Toby Rudolf celebrates with fans after Cronulla’s NRL win over South Sydney in Perth. Image by Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS 

That injury, coupled with Cronulla’s failure to win a finals game over the past two seasons under Craig Fitzgibbon, has led the prop to consider how he can get the best out of himself in the new year.

Rudolf, 27, realises that if he wants to challenge for a premiership he will have to make sacrifices after signing a two-year extension with the Sharks last month.

He says he will allow himself a beer at the end of the club’s pre-season camp and on their annual trip to Coffs Harbour, but other than that Rudolf is keen to stay dry.

“I’ve not taken the piss the last few years but I’ve definitely enjoyed myself,” Rudolf said.

“I think I speak for most of the team when I say we need to go on a drinking ban.

“I’m going all in this year, no drinking. I told Fitzy on Mad Monday when I was full of liquid courage but I stand by that and I told him that because I want to be held accountable.

“I’m 28 next year so that’s not a lot of time left … It’s now or never for me and I said the team deserves to have the best version of me.”

Addin Fonua-Blake.
 Addin Fonua-Blake’s move to Cronulla from the Warriors in 2025 has been welcomed by Toby Rudolf. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

Meanwhile, Rudolf said he was relishing the arrival of Addin Fonua-Blake, who inked a four-year deal with the club on Tuesday.

The hard-nosed Tonga international will see out the 2024 season with the Warriors before linking with the Sharks the following year.

“He’s a very complete front-rower and he’s someone I want to model myself on,” Rudolf said.

“We’re very different players, I’ve got no footwork and just run it straight.”