Nicho Hynes, the star player of the Sharks, dismissed speculations of strained relations with his former Blues coach Brad Fittler following his exclusion from the team in the aftermath of the first game loss in State of Origin.
This setback was a bitter pill to swallow for Hynes who was dumped from the Blues squad after two consecutive losses to Brisbane and Melbourne, a marked contrast to his otherwise stellar start in NRL.
Rumours circulated about a fallout between Fittler and Hynes due to his axing, but he insisted their relationship remains strong. Hynes expressed his eagerness to reclaim his position after witnessing Cody Walker and Mitch Moses step up in the third game.
Hynes added, “It didn’t jeopardise our relationship.” He feels the coach was unfairly targeted by the media for his selections, which is common for this high-profile role. Far from causing friction, Hynes believes this strengthened their bond.
Despite the harsh treatment Fittler faced, Hynes maintained their interaction via texting and in-person meetings, lauding Fittler’s care for his well-being. He did not hold any bitter feelings regarding his non-selection decision.
The decision to put Hynes in a strange playing position in Adelaide was met with widespread disapproval. A majority of the fans stood by Hynes who they believed should have secured his place.
Despite the public outcry, Hynes rose to Fittler’s defence, maintaining that the coach’s transparency throughout the process should be appreciated. He said, “I get consolation from fans supporting my inclusion, but if I was suitable for the job then, I would have been chosen.”
Portraying doubts concerning his competence in significant games was a concern, particularly given the Sharks‘ swift exit from last year’s championships. Hynes affirmed his intention to prove his critics wrong when he stated, “I’m here to silence the doubters.”
Conceding that he struggled with the demotion, Hynes made a deliberate effort to steer clear of social media and its posts, although it hardly spared him from criticism, thanks to his friends relaying negative articles.
The experienced player recognises this scrutiny as a part and parcel of the fame, with setbacks being an integral part of a stellar career in sports. He confessed, however, to his confidence taking a hit and the feeling of disappointing others and himself.
Acknowledging that he was struggling in general due to the losses, Hynes added, “It’s one moment in a game that can ground you.”
The first real challenge in his career happened on the field after victories at Storm and gaining momentum for 18 months at Cronulla. He said, “Every player is brought back to their senses at one point. All the legends have gone through it.”
Hynes added, “I’m not yet a legend – but I’d love to be one someday. I’m fortunate I get to go through it now and learn from it and become a better player.”