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NRL 2023: Nicho Hynes backs baby Sharks to make Cronulla a finals force after another disappointing finals exit

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After yet another disappointing finals exit, Sharks star Nicho Hynes says 2024 is ‘go time’ for Cronulla, with a host of next-gen stars putting pressure on the top squad.

Nicho Hynes has identified Cronulla‘s next crop of rising stars he believes can help shape the club into a consistent finals force.
Shattered by the Sharks disappointing finals exit, Hynes declared that after fading when it mattered most, the 2024 season needed to be “go time” for Cronulla and that pressure from the club’s next-generation of players would require the squad to “work like they never have before.’’
The reigning Dally M medallist also shone a light on his own 2023 season, by revealing it included challenges he had never faced previously in his career.

ROOSTERS LOSS​

Alongside Cronulla teammate Cam McInnes, Hynes was chosen for the first time in Mal Meninga’s Prime Minister’s XIII that defeated Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby two weeks ago.
His selection provided a timely sanctuary for the Sharks halfback following his side’s harrowing 13-12 loss to the Roosters in week one of the finals.
Hynes had two shots at field goal to level the scores in the final stages of the match, both of which were charged down by Roosters stars James Tedesco and Luke Keary.
“I haven’t watched them yet, but I’ve replayed them over and over in my head,’’ Hynes said. “I reckon we could argue the fact they may have been offside, but two great players (Tedesco and Keary) came up with two great plays.
“The bottom line is, we shouldn’t have been in that position. But as far as the field goals go, me being the player I want to be, I need to get deeper (on the field) next time and nail the shot.’’

LEARNING CURVE​

As frustrating as Cronulla’s elimination final loss was, it was a major growth year for Hynes, albeit he still has only amassed 47 games in total as a halfback.
“I’ve learned a hell of a lot about being more patient,’’ Hynes said. “Last year, I came here and rode that high for so long. I won the Dally M and we didn’t lose many games (finishing second in 2022). “I hadn’t lost many games at Melbourne, either.
“But this season was the first time I was challenged with a few losses, with the pressure of signing a new long-term deal, playing Origin for the first time and then getting dropped from Origin.
“I’m just glad it’s happened now so that I can learn from it and deal with it this off season and put things in place so that next year, I’m better for it. I have only played 50 games at halfback.
“You look at the likes of Nathan (Cleary), Cooper (Cronk), (Johnathan) Thurston, it probably took them 100 games to win a premiership or to be the best quality halfback they are.
“I‘m still learning my trade and I think I really learned the game management side of the halfback role, towards the end of this season and being an all-round halfback, so I just have to keep progressing.’’

TRICKY SITUATION​

Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon made a call few rookie coaches would make; to overhaul his halves pairing with seven rounds remaining in the season. The promotion of Braydon Trindall alongside Hynes – relegating Matt Moylan – proved pivotal.
Hynes said he felt for Moylan before challenging Trindall to return in November for the biggest pre-season of his career.
“I feel like the last six or seven weeks is what it should look like for us,’’ Hynes said. “We beat Souths, we beat the Cowboys, who were both fighting for their finals spots and we beat a tough team in the Titans and then we beat the Raiders and almost beat the Roosters.
“I thought our defence, even without plenty of our starting 17 available over that last month, also improved.
“I feel like it’s only going to get better (with Trindall). We probably played some of our best footy in those moments.
“I feel for Moyza. We’ve had a very good 18 months together. We’re very similar, like-minded in attack and it’s hard – he’s one of my best mates in the team. It’s unfortunate that in a couple of those games where we were poor, he got dropped and Tricky (Trindall) came in and played really well. You’ve got to give credit to Tricky because he’s bided his time.
“I’m looking forward to growing the combination. Hopefully Tricky comes back in good order and is ready for a massive pre-season, because I know Moyza will be going just as hard.’’

WINNING FINALS ROSTER​

In the wake of the Sharks’ failed final series, the strength of Cronulla’s roster and its capability to compete with the top four sides has been questioned.
Hynes has his own thoughts. “I think it’s definitely capable,’’ he said.
“We are a young squad, people seem to forget how many players we have under 100 first grade games in our team. Our development from our experiences is key for us, we must learn and go up another level again. That’s everyone in our team.
“I think we have the team to go the extra mile. It’s just about belief and working harder than we’ve ever worked before.
“It’s ‘go time’ now.
“We’ve had two years together, we know our systems, our processes, it’s about knuckling down now and giving it a real shake. If we don’t give it a shake next year, then maybe we might have to tweak some things.’’

NEXT-GEN​

One of those tweaks could come in the shape of promoting to the NRL several members of Cronulla’s rich talent pool.
This year saw the emergence of Sharks rookie of the year winner Tom Hazelton and hard-nosed forward Jesse Colquhoun. There will be even more pressure coming from below next season in the shape of winger Sam Stonestreet, centre Kayal Iro, fullback, centre or five-eighth Kade Dykes, utility Daniel Atkinson and huge prop Tuku Hau Tapuha, Hynes said.
“The unfortunate thing for a lot of our younger guys was that the majority of NRL opportunities came through injuries in our pack,’’ Hynes said. “Which is why we got to see the likes of Jesse and Tommy Hazelton.
“Whereas in the backline, Ronny (Mulitalo), Jesse (Ramien), Sifa (Talakai) and Sione (Katoa), played pretty much every game.
“I thought Stoney (Stonestreet) would’ve played NRL this year because his pre-season was unbelievable.
“He’s going to be
better for the long run, Kayal is going to be better for the long run, Kade will be back, everyone is going to be more experienced, with another pre-season under the belt. It’s definitely not panic stations, but we all need to be ready for a massive 12 months.’’

Hynes’ hit-list of baby Sharks to make Cronulla a finals force
 

SadShark

Bench
Messages
3,976
What was wrong with doing it this year? Oh, please, let me if I might have a stab. Lemme see. Hmmmmmm. Here goes -
Clutching dearly to the culture of still being that poor club that passed a bucket around at games to stay afloat. Being mentally weak and proud of it (maintaining club footprint since 1967). Aaaaaaaaaannnd:

Piss ant forwards with piss ant attitudes. Mug lair, out of position and lazy backs with no speed. Players player and coaches player of the year an insulting f**king joke. All the aforementioned being resigned/having deals extended.

And most of all: no mongrel, no merkin in them, laying down to Manly/Melbourne/Brisbane like a f**ken lame gerbil (a-f**kin-gain), with a “hey, we made the finals! That’s fantastic! That’ll do hey?” Fu cking philosophy that is embossed, engraved, inked and ingrained in this stinking, excuse riddled, muck hole of a club.

As much chance of winning another premiership as the speakers at the ground bing replaced and turned the f**k down. Far korff and GAGF.
 

Frenzy.

Immortal
Messages
47,601
What was wrong with doing it this year? Oh, please, let me if I might have a stab. Lemme see. Hmmmmmm. Here goes -
Clutching dearly to the culture of still being that poor club that passed a bucket around at games to stay afloat. Being mentally weak and proud of it (maintaining club footprint since 1967). Aaaaaaaaaannnd:

Piss ant forwards with piss ant attitudes. Mug lair, out of position and lazy backs with no speed. Players player and coaches player of the year an insulting f**king joke. All the aforementioned being resigned/having deals extended.

And most of all: no mongrel, no merkin in them, laying down to Manly/Melbourne/Brisbane like a f**ken lame gerbil (a-f**kin-gain), with a “hey, we made the finals! That’s fantastic! That’ll do hey?” Fu cking philosophy that is embossed, engraved, inked and ingrained in this stinking, excuse riddled, muck hole of a club.

As much chance of winning another premiership as the speakers at the ground bing replaced and turned the f**k down. Far korff and GAGF.
I will provide a washup of the above: The acceptance of mediocrity is still the underpinning tenet in Sharks culture.
 

SadShark

Bench
Messages
3,976
how do you change that ?
The coach and the players need to address it. “Do you just wanna play finals football (loud cheers and hurrahs all round) or do you want to do what it takes to win the whole f**ken thing (crickets chirping)?” Compare the Pennies attitude to the Sharks. Ain’t the same. At all.

They want to win 4 in a row (quoting Liam Martin) and they believe they can do it. They have enforcers and leaders. We have none of those at all - including the coach. This team are 50/50 to make even the eight next year. They can only daydream about being bundled out first week in 2024.

Big, saggy, hairy ball bags that are slappin’ against their trembling legs as they canter towards another failed campaign. You betcha.
 

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