Coach of the Sharks, Craig Fitzgibbon, brought the curtain down on the mystery of his selection choices as he discussed his decision to avoid moving Nicho Hynes, Dally M award winner, to the fullback spot for the crucial weekend match against the Rabbitohs happening in Perth.
Eager to take on the fullback position in place of injured Will Kennedy was Hynes. Kennedy potentially faces a premature end to the season due to a hamstring injury he picked up during the defeat against Penrith last week.
Hynes brought a measurable amount of experience to the fullback role through his time spent with Melbourne, although his single performance wearing the No.1 shirt for Cronulla resulted in a crushing 30-10 defeat by Canberra in the last season.
While the attractive prospect of rejuvenating Cronulla’s offensive might have swayed Fitzgibbon in favour of the switch, he chose to err on the side of stability, leaving Hynes to maintain his partnership with Braydon Trindall.
This decision means Connor Tracey will step up to fill the fullback role following Kennedy’s departure last week, with Hynes remaining responsible for guiding the team’s on-field strategy.
“Nicho’s willingness to adapt shows he’s open to any role that benefits the team.” Fitzgibbon spoke highly of his halfback’s initiative.
“Over the past weeks, injuries among other factors have caused a constant chopping and changing of our formations. We believe that for this week, our focus should be on maintaining stability.”
“We want to continue to forge a strong dynamic between Tricky (Trindall) and Nicho.”
“Connor has spent the majority of the season training and playing in the fullback position, so it was a natural choice for him to be appointed to the role given his performance last week.”
“Letting Nicho and Tricky lead the team efforts means we can maintain a more stable game strategy.”
After a gutsy yet fruitless 28-0 defeat against the Panthers where they were consistently defending their goal line, the Sharks face a critical point of the season where their top eight position is at stake.
A loss against the Rabbitohs coupled with the weekend’s other results going against the Sharks could see the team slip from their current standings. This makes the Saturday match in Perth a crucial one.
The game is anticipated to be a heavy lift given that the Rabbitohs knocked them out of the finals last year and handed them a thumping defeat in the Shire during the first round. However, the Sharks are well-armed to give trouble to a team that hasn’t been on a good run of late.
“Every victory becomes crucial towards this part of the year,” Fitzgibbon expressed.
“The current ladder is tightly fought and we’ve had tough competition throughout the year.”
“The outcome becomes more critical with just four remaining games after this match, so we’re planning to use our last week’s performance as a benchmark, but we must put forward our best selves, ensure strong performance and strive for improvement from last week.”