You can’t win a premiership as a one-man team.

It’s as simple as that.

The Manly Sea Eagles learned it the hard way last year when Tom Trbojevic put together one of the all-time great individual seasons, and there have been other examples over the journey, but maybe none will hit as hard as this year’s dramatic straight sets elimination at the Sharks.

This isn't designed to take away from the absolutely amazing season Nicho Hynes has put together.

The star half, who knocked all the doubters on the head with his move to the Shire from the Melbourne Storm ahead of the 2022 season, took the Sharks all the way to a second-place finish on the NRL table.

That the efforts were led by Hynes is something which can't be argued with. He was the best player at Cronulla by a country mile, and as colleague Dan Nichols put it in his 20 thoughts this week, the fact it took more than about five minutes at the Sharks' awards night to crown him as club player of the year was a miracle from the club.

Those questions which followed him to the Shire were all answered emphatically.

Can he perform outside the Storm system? You bet.

Can he lead a team and direct traffic as the halfback? Pass with flying colours.

Does he have the kicking game to complement everything else he had already displayed in Melbourne? Again, put a tick in the box.

Again, this isn't to trash Hynes, or even the Sharks. Both club and player outperformed expectations by the length of the Flemington straight this season.

Most expected them to push for a top eight spot, not be in the top four and hosting a qualifying final at the end of the season.

Their other recruits also worked wonders around Hynes. It was smart business by the club to bring both Dale Finucane and Cameron McInnes to the Shire.

The underbelly of the Sharks in the second half of games in 2021 was incredibly soft, to the point where they were a top-four team if games finished at halftime, and the complete opposite if only second half scorelines were taken into account.

They did fix those issues, but winning in big games requires more than one player leading the orchestra, and that's what Cronulla didn't have.

A more experienced Hynes may have made a difference on that end - his season was great, but players like Johnathan Thurston are once in a generation, and certainly require a lot more experience than the Cronulla half currently has to lead a team to a premiership in the toughest competition in the world.

More experience in the coaching department - where Craig Fitzgibbon excelled as a rookie - is also needed down the track.

But the Sharks' straight sets knockout should almost come as no surprise, despite how good their regular season performances were.

The real reason was revealed on Wednesday night when the star half broke the record for most Dally M votes in a single season, recording 38 to take out the award by five votes ahead of James Tedesco, while Ben Hunt was another vote further off the pace.

Without wanting to be critical to Hynes or the Sharks, he needs more support.

His record tally of points was only possible because he had no other players consistently steeling points off him, as happens at the other big clubs.

At the Panthers, for example, Dylan Edwards and Isaah Yeo both finished in the top ten, while Nathan Cleary had enough points to be there as well had he not been suspended.

The Storm had both Cameron Munster and Harry Grant in the final top ten, while James Tedesco lost points over the journey to the likes of Joseph Manu and Sam Walker, although the duo weren't as consistent as you'd maybe like them to be.

38 points is an incredible haul, and again, you can't take anything away from Hynes and his miraculous season. It was one which just went from level to level, but their finals run proves exactly what the Sharks lacked compared to the other big clubs.

The opening week's loss to the Cowboys saw an attacking display from both sides, but at times didn't feel like a final with poor defence on display, while the second week loss to the Rabbitohs saw the Sharks virtually never in the contest apart from a few fleeting moments in the second half.

That was despite the best efforts of Hynes of course, but he simply didn't have the leadership and experience, let alone consistent talent around him.

William Kennedy went backwards this season in the number one jumper, while Blayke Brailey hasn't quite hit his potential yet, despite showing plenty of strong signs.

Then there is Matt Moylan, who had his best season in a long time next to Hynes, and has now been re-signed for another two years on the back of it.

Whether that is the right call will only be able to be told by time.

Hynes will keep growing and improving in his role, of that there is little doubt, but unless those around him stand up and learn to play big games, then a premiership will continue to stay out of arm's reach.

Brought to you by Bendix Brakes


  1. I would suggest that:
    Toby Rudolph and Wade Graham also went backwards, this season.
    Aiden Tolman tried hard but age ran him down.
    Andrew Fifita was too old to play for more than a quarter of an hour per game.
    Blake Brailey – only 80kg – was so worn out making 1127 tackles (second only to Damien Cook) that he was too knackered to be creative.

    I think Cronulla’s problems lie in the pack, and they could start by adopting the increasingly common practice of having a second hooker on the bench and swapping between him and the starting #9 ie use Cam McInness as something other than simply a tackling machine.

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