Taking a punt on a new halves combination always involves a certain level of trepidation, but for Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon the first two games of 2022 have more than vindicated his decision to put his faith in Matt Moylan and Nicho Hynes.
Both men are converted fullbacks and while Moylan boasted plenty of experience at five-eighth heading into the season, Hynes had played halfback only once in his 36-game NRL career.
The former Storm man put countless hours into honing his craft during the pre-season and the rewards have come with two assured performances against Canberra and Parramatta.
"We tried a few different combinations in the pre-season but Nicho and Matt gelled very well," Fitzgibbon said.
"Their work ethic is tremendous and they are involved in everything and that's what you want out of your halves. It's still early for their connection but has it formed pretty quickly.
Dragons v Sharks
"Ive always believed in Matt as a player and I was confident Nicho had played enough half growing up to do the job. You don't forget how you've grown up playing footy and the position you were in, he just had to put in a big pre-season working on the fundamentals of the halves role."
The Sharks have opened their campaign with two nailbiters, one which Moylan looked to have won with a late field goal and the other coming down to an ice cool conversion by Hynes after the siren to snatch victory.
Such is their growing confidence as a partnership that Moylan and Hynes have already contributed four try assists, six line break assists and two line breaks between them, as well as busting five tackles each against the Eels.
Having missed the round one trip to Canberra due to COVID, Fitzgibbon was delighted to be back on deck for the club's emotional return to PointsBet Stadium last Saturday when Teig Wilton's 80th minute try and Hynes' conversion sent the Sharks faithful into a frenzy.
Hynes the hero
The challenge now is to back that up in the local derby against the Dragons, a team they have beaten in five of their past six meetings.
The Sharks enter the WIN Stadium clash without Ronaldo Mulitalo (head knock) and Wilton (suspended) but they welcome back utility Braydon Trindall, who missed the first two rounds due to a suspension incurred during the trials.
Fitzgibbon says the chemistry between Will Kennedy, Hynes, Moylan and Blayke Brailey in the spine has impressed him and the addition of Trindall adds another dimension.
"Braydon can play in the halves which is where his future lies for us and he can fill the hooking role or No.13 - he gives us good coverage in the spine," Fitzgibbon said.
"The way the game is going you don't know what can pop up throughout the course of a match and he's a really tough kid and I trust him pretty much anywhere on the field.
"It's nice to have that coverage and security in the event that something goes pear-shaped."