Townsend ready for finals second coming
Sharks halfback Chad Townsend was just 22 when he got his first taste of finals football in the NRL but he's had to wait until this weekend to get his second chance.
Townsend's one and only NRL finals game came in 2013 when he was called up for the injured Todd Carney to face the Sea Eagles in the Sharks' eventual six-point loss.
Two years at the Warriors in between stints at Cronulla brought zero finals success for Townsend.
Upon his return to the Shire this season, Townsend's Sharks have finished third in the regular season and take on the in-form Raiders in Canberra on Saturday.
The halfback says last week's 26-6 loss to the Storm will inspire his side to lift for their finals campaign, and admits he wasn't finals ready three seasons ago.
"I've learnt a lot in two years so I'm definitely a better player. I probably wasn't ready for my one finals game because I wasn't playing as consistent or as good back then as I am now – I'm a different player now," Townsend said.
"You hit the nail on the head when you say these chances don't come around too often. With the team we have, I know the potential we have and we can do anything if we play our best footy.
"I think on the weekend was like a finals game against Melbourne. There was a packed-out crowd, the intensity of the game was very high when we were going set for set and games from now on are going to be like that."
After two years at the Warriors Townsend admitted he didn't know what to expect when he returned to Cronulla in 2016.
"People say to me all the time if I imagined my first year back to pan out the way it has. To be honest when I first came back, I didn't really know what the year was going to have," he said.
"I just worried about what I could do and with the season we have had since, we're very proud of where we have finished."
Townsend will have Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii to contend with when the Sharks head to GIO Stadium looking to book a preliminary final berth.
"I'm ready for the challenge and I'm ready to take Josh Papalii on. Papalii's a barnstorming runner and it's a clash I'm looking forward to," he said.
"But it's also important for me to be a voice in attack and make sure the boys know what we're doing and where we're going.
"For patches against Melbourne we played good footy but we just couldn't execute that last pass."