Infotainment Factory: Why future superstar could be forced to quit

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Monday, 13 May 2019

Why future superstar could be forced to quit


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If 2019 has proven anything it’s hard to keep Cronulla down.

Despite starting their season on the shakiest of foundations amid the loss of coach Shane Flanagan, a $1.25M dollar club fine, $350k cut from their salary cap and the shock exit of superstar Valentine Holmes, the Sharks have refused to go belly-up.

Even in the face of a burgeoning injury ward that has seen the likes of Shaun Johnson, Matt Moylan, Wade Graham, and Aaron Woods pushed to the sidelines, Cronulla have managed to turn their lemons into lemonade.

They say adversity breeds excellence and it would appear the arrival of prodigious half-back Kyle Flanagan is that result.

Kyle Flanagan stars for the Sharks

Having been uprooted from the shelter of reserves, the 20-year-old has proven his mettle in Johnson’s stead, leading the injury-ravaged Sharks to back-to-back wins.

He doubled down on his display against the Storm where he forced a drop-out and set up Briton Nikora’s crucial try with a rousing make-or-break penalty goal to dispatch the Titans in Magic Round.

Performances like that don’t go unnoticed and the Sharks will soon likely face the issue of managing three play-makers with only two positions available.

Chad Townsend has undoubtedly cemented his position as the Sharks’ starting five-eighth. Earning $550k a year until the end of 2020, the club will undoubtedly look to lock down the 28-year-old for the better part of his remaining career.

Marquee man Johnson is a tried and tested superstar. Brought in to slot beside Townsend, the pair have the makings of a dangerous partnership. And with Johnson earning roughly a $1M a season until the end of 2021, it doesn’t appear he’s going anywhere soon.

So, what to do with Flanagan? He’s previously stated he sees himself as an out-and-out half-back, and with show-stopping performances notching under his belt, the Sharks face the very real problem of how to retain one of their brightest talents while managing their two incumbents.

Kyle Flanagan stars for the Sharks

It’s a relatively fortunate predicament to be in, but nonetheless one that will attract the interest of a host franchises eager to poach the blossoming halfback says NRL legend Peter Sterling.

“He’s a star, there’s no doubt about that,” Sterling told Wide World of Sports.

“Kyle Flanagan has been a big part of that[Cronulla’s form] over the last two weeks.

“He kicked the pressure goal to put them in front and I suppose the question now in regards to Kyle Flanagan is: Chad Townsend has really established himself at this club, Shaun Johnson has only just been signed. If this kid gets a little more first grade under his belt this year, he’s a ready-made starter going into 2020.

“I have no doubt that there would be clubs out there who would be loving to get his signature on the bottom of a contract because you’re not only buying a quality player with a long career in front of him, but an outstanding goal kicker as well, so there’s a lot of attractions with this young bloke.

“I’m going to be keen to find out how Cronulla maintain him and the other players who play around his position.”

Kyle Flanagan trains with the Sharks

Cast an eye over the NRL’s thinning half-back stocks and Sterling’s assessment holds water.

Connor Watson is yet to convince alongside Mitchell Pearce following on from the failed Kalyn Ponga experiment. A move up north could see Nathan Brown afforded the missing piece to his squad widely touted to do great things in the coming years.

Similarly, Manly’s Kane Elgy has struggled to stamp his authority alongside Daly Cherry-Evans who’s experience would undoubtedly nurture the budding talent of Flanagan if a move to Lottoland was on the cards.

North Queensland are still in the hunt for a long-term replacement for Johnathan Thurston. While Michael Morgan still holds authority over the centre of the park, Flangan could be an option to build a dynasty around for the futre.

While the Bulldogs don’t currently prove an attractive landing site, it is widely understood that the franchise is in a state of rebuild. Club upper-management made no secret that they’d go after Ponga if he was on the market, and while Flanagan is not in the same league yet, some more time with the ball in his hands could see him there.

For now, the NRL community will watch the youngster estbalish his roots with the expected return of Johnson still up to four weeks away.

In that time, Flanagan will have exposed his talents to the Sea Eagles, Dragons, Eels and Raiders, with no doubt a host of head-turning performances to show for it.

If 2019 has proven anything it’s hard to keep Cronulla down.

Despite starting their season on the shakiest of foundations amid the loss of coach Shane Flanagan, a $1.25M dollar club fine, $350k cut from their salary cap and the shock exit of superstar Valentine Holmes, the Sharks have refused to go belly-up.

Even in the face of a burgeoning injury ward that has seen the likes of Shaun Johnson, Matt Moylan, Wade Graham, and Aaron Woods pushed to the sidelines, Cronulla have managed to turn their lemons into lemonade.

They say adversity breeds excellence and it would appear the arrival of prodigious half-back Kyle Flanagan is that result.

Kyle Flanagan stars for the Sharks

Having been uprooted from the shelter of reserves, the 20-year-old has proven his mettle in Johnson’s stead, leading the injury-ravaged Sharks to back-to-back wins.

He doubled down on his display against the Storm where he forced a drop-out and set up Briton Nikora’s crucial try with a rousing make-or-break penalty goal to dispatch the Titans in Magic Round.

Performances like that don’t go unnoticed and the Sharks will soon likely face the issue of managing three play-makers with only two positions available.

Chad Townsend has undoubtedly cemented his position as the Sharks’ starting five-eighth. Earning $550k a year until the end of 2020, the club will undoubtedly look to lock down the 28-year-old for the better part of his remaining career.

Marquee man Johnson is a tried and tested superstar. Brought in to slot beside Townsend, the pair have the makings of a dangerous partnership. And with Johnson earning roughly a $1M a season until the end of 2021, it doesn’t appear he’s going anywhere soon.

So, what to do with Flanagan? He’s previously stated he sees himself as an out-and-out half-back, and with show-stopping performances notching under his belt, the Sharks face the very real problem of how to retain one of their brightest talents while managing their two incumbents.

Kyle Flanagan stars for the Sharks

It’s a relatively fortunate predicament to be in, but nonetheless one that will attract the interest of a host franchises eager to poach the blossoming halfback says NRL legend Peter Sterling.

“He’s a star, there’s no doubt about that,” Sterling told Wide World of Sports.

“Kyle Flanagan has been a big part of that[Cronulla’s form] over the last two weeks.

“He kicked the pressure goal to put them in front and I suppose the question now in regards to Kyle Flanagan is: Chad Townsend has really established himself at this club, Shaun Johnson has only just been signed. If this kid gets a little more first grade under his belt this year, he’s a ready-made starter going into 2020.

“I have no doubt that there would be clubs out there who would be loving to get his signature on the bottom of a contract because you’re not only buying a quality player with a long career in front of him, but an outstanding goal kicker as well, so there’s a lot of attractions with this young bloke.

“I’m going to be keen to find out how Cronulla maintain him and the other players who play around his position.”

Kyle Flanagan trains with the Sharks

Cast an eye over the NRL’s thinning half-back stocks and Sterling’s assessment holds water.

Connor Watson is yet to convince alongside Mitchell Pearce following on from the failed Kalyn Ponga experiment. A move up north could see Nathan Brown afforded the missing piece to his squad widely touted to do great things in the coming years.

Similarly, Manly’s Kane Elgy has struggled to stamp his authority alongside Daly Cherry-Evans who’s experience would undoubtedly nurture the budding talent of Flanagan if a move to Lottoland was on the cards.

North Queensland are still in the hunt for a long-term replacement for Johnathan Thurston. While Michael Morgan still holds authority over the centre of the park, Flangan could be an option to build a dynasty around for the futre.

While the Bulldogs don’t currently prove an attractive landing site, it is widely understood that the franchise is in a state of rebuild. Club upper-management made no secret that they’d go after Ponga if he was on the market, and while Flanagan is not in the same league yet, some more time with the ball in his hands could see him there.

For now, the NRL community will watch the youngster estbalish his roots with the expected return of Johnson still up to four weeks away.

In that time, Flanagan will have exposed his talents to the Sea Eagles, Dragons, Eels and Raiders, with no doubt a host of head-turning performances to show for it.

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