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Nicho Hynes is excited about his playmaking role with the Sharks

Nicho Hynes is determined to dispel the perception that players recruited from the Storm don’t perform as well for rival clubs and wants to take on leadership, playmaking and goalkicking responsibilities for the Sharks.

After a breakout season at fullback for Melbourne this year, Hynes has moved to Cronulla on a three-year deal to play the first receiver role and while he wasn’t due to join his new team-mates at training until this week the 25-year arrived early.

While he is still familiarising himself with the names of some squad members and the calls introduced by new Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon, Hynes was vocal as he organised the play at Monday’s session.

“I want to try and be a leader of this team, I want to be a main player in this team - the guy that they look to on the field when it is needed,” Hynes said in his first interview as a Cronulla player.

“I just think that controlling the game was something I was good at when I was a bit younger so hopefully I can get back to that again.”

Nicho Hynes in Cronulla's 2022 away jersey
Nicho Hynes in Cronulla's 2022 away jersey ©Grant Trouville /NRL Photos

Hynes admits that most NRL only really became aware of him this year when he was starring in the No.1 jersey for the Storm while fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen was sidelined by injury but he insists that he’s not out to prove his playmaking credentials.

With no room for him in a full-strength Storm backline, the former Manly junior had been in high demand from rival clubs but Fitzgibbon’s desire for him to play in the halves helped convince Hynes to sign with Cronulla.

However, he revealed that there had been some negativity from fans of other clubs about signing Storm players, as the likes of Brodie Croft, Curtis Scott and Joe Stimson have struggled to fulfill expectations after leaving Melbourne in recent seasons.

“There is obviously a lot of noise about people going from the Storm and that they don’t go as good but I think that is pretty crap to be honest,” Hynes said. “It was very vocal up in Queensland when I was linked to the Broncos, with people saying that with Storm players you have to be careful.

“I just don’t think that s an appropriate thing to stay. [Craig Bellamy] does get the best out of you at the Storm but why can’t other coaches. If you put in the work, I can’t see why you can’t be as good as at the Storm.”

Hynes enjoyed his time at Melbourne and owes a lot to Bellamy and the club but after starting in 18 matches last season at either fullback or in the halves, he said the shift to the interchange for the finals convinced him he had made the right decision to leave.

“When I went back to the bench you don’t feel like that player anymore and the whole reason I came here was to start every week,” he said.

“People might think I only played fullback at the Storm … but I grew up playing in the halves my whole life and through my career at Manly in the juniors and under 20s, and my Queensland Cup career as well. It’s not new to me.

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“When I had that first conversation with Fitzy, he mentioned that. It was pretty exciting that he wanted me to play in the halves here and get my hands on the ball a little bit earlier.

“You can’t really control the game at fullback, so if we want an early kick I will be the man to do that - or my halves partner.”

Fitzgibbon is expected to use the pre-season to decide who will partner Hynes in the halves, with Matt Moylan, Braydon Trindall and Luke Metcalf among the options.

Hynes insisted he also had to secure a starting spot but was confident he would not only do that but playing a leading role in Cronulla’s success next season.

“I don’t know if I really have a point to prove to anyone other than myself but there is going to be outside noise this year and plenty of it this year, with me going to the Sharks as a half who hasn’t played a whole lot of NRL,” Hynes said.

“I am going to put the hard work in and with the training I am going to do hopefully I can prove them wrong.”