Cronulla Sharks halfback Chad Townsend says his goal in the trial against Manly this weekend will be to build a combination with new halves partner Matt Moylan that allows the instinctive former Panther to roam free and play structure-less football.
Townsend said while Moylan was a completely different style of player to the one he replaced – experienced NSW pivot James Maloney – the switch shouldn’t impact too much on the role Townsend has been cultivating for himself over the past few years at the club.
Cronulla will on Thursday announce their trial team to face Manly in Saturday’s trial match at Southern Cross Group Stadium but Townsend and Moylan are set to start the game as the first-string halves pairing.
Whether either plays much more than the opening 20 minutes of the four-quarter affair will depend on how the match plays out, according to Townsend.
“I dare say we’ll play the first 20 and then we’ll see how the game’s going and see what happens after that but I’m really looking forward to it,” Townsend said ahead of an opposed session against the touring Wigan Warriors at Cronulla on Wednesday.
“Moysa and myself are obviously a new combination and Matt’s a very different player to James so Matt coming in here, he obviously had to learn a little bit and we want him to play his style of footy.
“He’s got that X-factor flair about him. He can play anywhere across the field. I’m excited to have him in our team and see what he can provide for us.”
While they are yet to be tested in a match situation, Townsend felt the two had gelled well through the pre-season both on the training paddock and away from it, sharing plenty of quality time together.
“Matt’s obviously got some ideas about how he likes to play and I’ve got some ideas how I think I like to play and we’ve both got different strengths and we want to play to those strengths so we’ve been very precise about that, we talk about footy all the time, we’ve been hanging out away from footy, having a few games of golf and clearing our minds,” he said.
“When it comes time to train I can’t fault him, he’s done an extremely good job since he’s come in.
“I don’t think [my role ] will change too much, I think Matt’s probably got a little bit more speed than Jimmy and likes to play a few more short sides but a lot of their traits are very similar and my key role will be making sure to steer the team around and making sure we execute the game plan and allowing Matt the freedom to play his game.
“I’ll take control of everything else, the game plan the coaches will assign for us, and then we want him to play his game and not be stuck down to too much structure because his best game is playing what’s in front and running the ball.”
New halfback recruit Trent Hodkinson should also get some game time against Manly but is not believed to be in round one calculations at this stage. With no other recognised front-line goal-kicker in the team, Townsend, Moylan and Valentine Holmes will likely each get a chance to stake their claims to the job through the trials.