SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 26: Kyle Flanagan of the Sharks passes during the round 24 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Newcastle Knights at Southern Cross Group Stadium on August 26, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

One of the most highly-debated discussions revolves around the make up of the Sharks' halves partnership for 2022 and beyond.

Shaun Johnson has been shown the door after failing to produce the level of consistency required to justify a contract extension.

Matt Moylan has been the Sharks' best half when fit during the 2021 season. Although unfortunately Moylan's body continues to let him down and rob both him and the Sharks of building any combinations.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Matthew Moylan of the Sharks runs the ball during the NRL Semi Final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium on September 14, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Braydon Trindall has been named in the halves over the past two weeks, however it seems the Sharks are hardly sold on him as their answer.

Connor Tracey was named in the halves recently, however the absence of Will Chambers due to COVID protocols necessitated a move back to the centres, opening up a spot for Trindall's return.

Nicho Hynes, despite tearing it up in the No.1 for Melbourne, has been signed to take a spot in the halves for Craig Fitzgibbon next season.

I would guess that his most likely spot is in the six given his incredible running and the fact he hasn't been called upon to dictate via a kicking game in his current role.

Reports indicate that Hynes will take up his position as the long-term seven in the Shire.

Either way it is certain Hynes will slot into the halves, which sees half the Sharks' combination sorted for the next few years.

Despite insistence from incoming Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon that he's happy with the current stocks within the clubs, I dare suggest it is far from decided who will partner Hynes just yet.

A decision in regards to Matt Moylan's future is yet to be decided. He may be too similar to Nicho Hynes and given his injury history, anything more than a heavily discounted short-term deal seems unlikely.

Trindall has shown moments of brilliance but is yet to nail down a spot.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 27: Kyle Flanagan of the Bulldogs looks to pass during the round three NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium on March 27, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Tracey remains a shot, however the suggestion is his future lies in the outside backs. I'd argue that he's the perfect No.14 due to his incredible versatility.

The club earlier missed out on Adam Reynolds, while they chose not to offer Shaun Johnson a contract extension. Two obvious partners for Hynes.

Without a clear and obvious half option currently off-contract, the Sharks will have to think outside the box so to speak.

Luckily for Cronulla, a new option may have just been presented to them, and it's a familiar face in Kyle Flanagan.

Rugby League Outlaws talk Nicho Hynes and Shaun Johnson 

Young Flanagan was once seen as the future in the Shire. He set point-scoring records in the club's NYC side beside Luke Metcalf, who himself is an option for Fitzgibbon.

His early performances for the Sharks were incredible and it seemed only a matter of time before he overtook Chad Townsend as the club's long-term seven.

Unfortunately when his father Shane was moved on from the club, he packed his bags and forced an early exit to the Roosters.

Despite helping the club to a deep finals finish and leading the point-scoring for an extended period of time, his Roosters tenure was cut short.

Kyle Flanagan/Shane Flanagan

Many, myself included, saw Flanagan made as the scapegoat with his only real crime in taking over from Cooper Cronk being that he wasn't Cooper Cronk.

A big money move to the Bulldogs soon followed. I wrote that I believed the Roosters made an error in heaping their failure to win a third-straight title on a rookie half.

I honestly thought the Dogs would build their side around the talented, point-scoring freak and set a real foundation for 2022.

To say that did not eventuate is an understatement, as Flanagan failed to step up as expected and was soon dropped to reserve grade.

Reports this week indicate the Dogs are shopping their former marquee signing around to the Super League. They are even reported to be willing to tip in up to half his contract to move him from the books.

Kyle Flanagan has shown during his short career that he has a more than capable kicking game, a turn of pace and the undoubted ability to score points.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 02: Kyle Flanagan of the Roosters attempts to kick a goal during the NRL Qualifying Final match between the Penrith Panthers and the Sydney Roosters at Panthers Stadium on October 02, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

He hasn't however shown he is capable of holding down a first grade spot, even when surrounded by a stacked Roosters roster.

Could the Sharks be considering bringing back the former local junior?

At his best his game really compliments Nicho Hynes. Flanagan can control the kicking game and play first or second receiver depending on Hynes.

He certainly doesn't carry the form to suggest he could be the dominant half, but as a cut-priced option as second fiddle to Hynes, he does tick a lot of boxes.

Flanagan was thrown into the deep end at the Roosters and I could make a case that not even peak Andrew Johns could do much with the mess inherited at the Bulldogs.

The Sharks will have a potential superstar half with very genuine Dally M-winning form and the confidence of a coach who he had worked with in 2020. Suddenly it looks like a completely different situation.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Kyle Flanagan of the Sharks makes a break during the round 13 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Parramatta Eels at Shark Park on June 08, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

I could mount a case for Flanagan's return to the Shire. I could very easily also mount one against it.

Sharks fans across social media seem split as per the above poll. As a Sharks fan I honestly can't tell whether Flanagan is just a victim of terrible circumstances, or whether he's just not good enough.

One thing I do know is that earlier in the season during a press conference, Craig Fitzgibbon was asked specifically about Kyle Flanagan and said something along the lines of that he had not even been considered at that stage.

Truthfully, I don't know if Flanagan has done anything since to warrant re-visiting that consideration.

The only thing that has changed, seemingly, is his availability.

That may be enough to force a second look.

 

1 COMMENT

  1. If sharks arent sold on Trindall or Tracey and still looking for a halfback, they should look at Lachlan Lewis instead of Flannagan or Brooks. Lewis could be a top half by now if he wasnt in a struggling club. Plays with confidence, can be a solid defender, has a good kicking game, and not afraid to run or take on the defensive line with his ball running. His return to top grade this season has been good. Yeah he had a brain snap with the Walker incident, we saw brain snaps with Maloney during games also haha. He wouldn’t have a big price tag, also not currently linked to any suitors. Fitzy could turn him into a quality half, and would complement Hynes whether at 7 or 6 having top grade experience in the halves

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