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Townsend turning into one of Cronulla's leaders - and loving it

It looked like Chad Townsend had swallowed a golf ball which travelled down to his left hand after teammate Josh Morris accidentally stepped on it during the 20-18 win over Storm.

"It was a ruptured blood vessel. So that's what bloated up under my skin," Townsend told after a solid training session in preparation for the Titans at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday.

"It's still a bit swollen but not burning like it did five minutes after it happened. But I started to get more feeling into it pretty soon after.

"I'll be fine on Thursday but I'll still strap it. I caught and passed fine at training today."

Townsend will be linking once again with Kyle Flanagan in the halves, his second five-eighth partner in 2019 and his fourth since James Maloney left at the end of 2017.

"It doesn't faze me," he said.

"I have had a few since Jimmy left but in saying that, the staff here have been tremendous in outlining the structure in which we play.

"So the guys coming in alongside me have fallen into that structure and know what is expected.

Titans v Sharks - Magic Round

"Bomber [coach John Morris] has done an outstanding job with preparing the halves, including me."

What has been unexpected, at least by those outside the club, is how well the young crop of Cronulla forwards are motoring. They've been without Aaron Woods for five weeks and Wade Graham all season. 

"In the last few seasons our forward pack was built on veterans like Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis and Michael Ennis, Chris Heighington and Sam Tagataese. They were all 30 years or older," Townsend said.

"Now we've got a starting squad of much younger forwards, all under 24 years like Briton Nikora, who seem seasoned already.  And the guys coming off the bench like Jack Williams and Braden Uele are outstanding.

"They really did change the game against Storm with some of their big plays. So I'm happy for these kids that they've got their opportunity and it makes it exciting what they can do.

"They'll be close to 20 NRL games by the time we get to finals and that's exactly what we want.

"They know what we expect of them in regards to our game plans and the physicality needed to play our brand of Sharks footy."

Townsend, at age 28, is now a senior statesman of the team, and alongside Graham, will continue to take the Sharks forward after Gallen retires this year.

"As a halfback you're already a leader without being the actual leader if you know what I mean," Townsend said.

"For the communication and talk on the field already, I'm one of the loudest at that. But you have to be as a halfback.

Match Highlights: Sharks v Storm

"So that comes naturally with my position. But also now I've been around the game long enough and we've had some tremendous players move on, so I'm moving into that leader role and I really do like it.

"I love seeing the kids come in and helping them where I can.

"I'm in a really good place where I know the preparation I need, I know my body really well so I know what's needed to play the standard expected of me.

"I'm feeling really comfortable with what I'm doing at the moment and that's helping me get the best out of my football. Being that leader and voice is Okay with me."

Townsend is fast approaching 150 NRL games – the Titans will be his 148th.

He is averaging 204 metres in kicks and 70 metres running per game after eight rounds in 2019, along with his three tries and four try assists.

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