Townsend stands tall as dominant playmaker
The State of Origin period was a positive time for the Cronulla Sharks. Five of their own were picked by New South Wales while the club maintained their now 15-game winning run.
For Sharks halfback Chad Townsend, it's a block of the season he'll look back fondly upon as well.
With club skipper Paul Gallen and halves partner James Maloney out of the picture due to Blues duty, Townsend was handed the keys to the castle and duly dominated without his more-fancied teammates around.
While the likes of Ben Barba and Valentine Holmes stole the headlines following the Sharks' 36-4 win over the Knights on Sunday afternoon, no one should forget the man behind the Cronulla juggernaut.
Townsend, Maloney and veteran hooker Michael Ennis have combined for 25 try assists this year, with the 25-year-old leading the way (10 try assists).
"For me to be out there and be the dominant half, it's something I did enjoy. Mick [Ennis] and I have worked reasonably well through the Origin period," Townsend told NRL.com.
"You're always looking to improve and the more time I get as a dominant half is definitely going to help me and my game for the future.
"So it was a good period but I am happy Origin is over to be honest," he added.
"We finally get our team back and hopefully be able to put some training together. We haven't trained together properly as a team for a number of weeks which is hard as we're trying to build on combinations and evolve as a team."
Another man who hasn't received due plaudits this season has been winger Sosaia Feki, who sits at fourth on the NRL's top try-scorers list.
"Not too much fazes Feki. He does his job week-in, week-out and is just very consistent for us which is all we ask for," Townsend said.
"Our back five really have done an outstanding job all season. I'm not sure how their running metres stack up in terms of the competition, but they'd be up there.
"We have a pretty well-balanced mixture with our backs. For myself, it definitely makes my job a whole lot easier."
On the Sharks' 32-point win over the Knights, Townsend said the biggest thing for his side to overcome was the expectation they were to win before a ball had even been kicked.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for the Sharks either, having produced a whopping 20 errors throughout the game.
"When you go into a game like that, it's always probably mentally a bit hard. We didn't play our best footy, we played nowhere near our best footy but to come away with the win it's a good time for us," Townsend said.
"It's a different mentality when you're preparing. You have to still make sure that your preparation is spot on, just as if you were playing a top team.
"Our leadership group and senior guys spoke about that throughout the week and made it an important note for us to prepare well."