Halfback Chad Townsend believes the resilience the team has shown after being devastated by injuries in back-to-back matches will hold the Sharks in good stead for Saturday night’s clash with the Sydney Roosters at the SCG.
Townsend steered the Sharks to a 48-10 win over North Queensland last Saturday night, despite losing the right centre-wing pairing of Josh Dugan and Ronaldo Mulitalo midway through the first half.
The injuries followed the loss of four players before half-time the previous weekend against Parramatta, which proved to be a key driver in the introduction of the 18th man rule for teams with three players ruled out by HIAs or cases involving foul play.
Despite conceding three tries in the final 10 minutes to go down 28-4 against the Eels, Townsend said the Cronulla players gained a lot of confidence from that match and they needed to demonstrate similar levels of resilience last weekend.
“That builds confidence, camaraderie and culture,” Townsend said. “We are getting kind of used to losing players in games. We train for situations and scenarios all the time but we probably haven’t trained for some of the scenarios we have faced over the last two weeks.
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“We took so many positives out of the Parramatta game by the way we played and the way we turned up and we assessed that in our video session. Then when it happened again everyone just got on with it.
Connor Tracey, who is usually a five-eighth or fullback, was forced to start at left centre against the Cowboys but switched to the right wing when Mulitalo was injured and then the left wing after Dugan left the field.
Back-rower Teig Wilton and prop Jack Williams played most of the match in the centres.
“They have done an excellent job defensively and they are super agile,” Townsend said of the pair. “They just go in there and do their jobs. I am so proud of those guys and the way they continue to turn up.
“We are 2-2 and we have got a big game against the Roosters so we want to keep building.”
The Sharks would have won three games if Townsend had been on target with his goalkicking in their 12-10 round two loss to Canberra, with the star playmaker landing just one of four attempts.
However, Townsend’s radar was working perfectly against the Cowboys and he converted all eight Cronulla tries.
“It is something I have been working extremely hard on all summer to be honest, obviously knowing that Shaun [Johnson], our first choice goal kicker, would be out,” he said.
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“I just try to put a lot of time and effort into it, which is something I have always done throughout my career. I have never been first choice and I didn’t kick at all in a game last year so I would be lying if I said that what happened a few weeks ago didn’t hurt me.
“I felt like I lost the game for the team and that hurt. I am not ashamed to say that. I am just going to keep backing myself and the work that I have done. I know that if I continue to do that I will continue to get good results.”
Meanwhile, Townsend said he intended to wait until mid-season to make a decision on his future as he has an option clause in his contract that needs to be exercised before round 13.
The Sharks have 15 players off contract as well as coach John Morris.
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“I have got an option in my favour and I’d love to stay, I love this club, it is home for me but obviously there are few things out of my control and those decisions will be made in due process,” Townsend said.
“I have got until round 13 to make that call and I think it would be silly of me to exercise it right now when I have got the time to wait and see.
“Obviously knowing who the coach is going to be is definitely a plus but it is not the be all and end all of my decision.”