Townsend removes himself from outside world
Sharks halfback Chad Townsend will continue to cut himself off from the outside world as he looks to lead his beloved Cronulla outfit to NRL Telstra Premiership glory.
Townsend said removing himself from social media was a strategy he employed weeks ago and one that came in handy following the Sharks' qualifying final victory over the Raiders a fortnight ago.
The City Origin representative was unexpectedly benched in the final 20 minutes of the Raiders clash despite being only one of two Sharks players not to miss a game in 2016.
Conjecture over Townsend's mindset was a main storyline of Cronulla's 32-20 preliminary final win over North Queensland on Friday night.
Not that the 25-year-old read any of it.
Townsend responded with a try and a try assist in the victory in a commanding performance alongside Sharks five-eighth James Maloney.
The Sharks will now feature in their first grand final in a unified competition in 38 years next Sunday evening.
"I've cut out the social media, I've cut out the news and everything like that for a couple of weeks now. It's cleared my head. Mentally and physically, I've felt pretty good ever since," Townsend said.
"I'll continue to do that until the end of the season. It's an exciting time of the year but it's also very easy to be distracted by the hype I guess.
"I can [offset that] by focusing on what I do with the training and the time I put in."
Townsend said halves partner Maloney's experience helped him get past his period of uncertainty.
"(Maloney) has a lot of big game experience and that's something I've drawn off him. He's played Origin and grand finals and to me – at the clutch moments – he's really been there for me," Townsend said.
"I'm really trying to learn off him in those moments. 100 per cent he helps ease the pressure on me – that's been a key factor in my season."
While never quite agreeing with Flanagan's decision, Townsend never resented his coach's approach nor let it influence the Sharks' preliminary final preparation.
Townsend's team-oriented mindset never wavered.
"You have to take it as a man. It's a man's game. Sometimes things don't go your way, it's about how you respond," Townsend said.
"That's what I focused in on. I can't control what other says but I can control how I prepare. I've done that well all year to be honest so I was just glad I could contribute.
"Obviously plenty of people have spoken about what happened in Canberra but it was a decision made for the best interests of the team. I respect the decision Flanno had to make.
"I've had outstanding support from them, the coaching staff and also past players who have reached out. It's been tremendous. I was very pleased to put in a performance I know I can produce."