The prodigal son returned home in 2016 with Chad Townsend arriving back in the Shire a more mature and polished player after a two-year stint at the New Zealand Warriors.
A Junior Kangaroo while coming through the grades at the Sharks, the challenge was going to be taking control of a team containing a number of experienced campaigners, not to mention the task of forming a halves partnership with incoming five eighth James Maloney.
A narrow loss in round one was followed by a comprehensive victory over the Dragons in round 2, where Townsend rose to the challenge to star in his first ‘Home’ derby showdown.
Laying on an early try for winger Valentine Holmes before crossing the stripe for one of his own, Townsend went on to claim Man of the Match honours in his return to playing at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
Not only did Townsend return to the Shire a much more mature, complete half, so too did he return with rockets in his boots – and he was only too happy to ignite the fuse in the side’s Round 4 win over the Storm.
A Holmes bust paved the way for Townsend to score, but if not for the half’s turn of foot, he’d have not found the line.
So it would be, Townsend cruised home before ‘dabbing’ in front of the Family Hill – the same patch of turf where he’d sit and watch his heroes as an aspiring young footballer.
Year in Review: Chad Townsend*
Games played 2016 - 27
Try Assists: 15
Line Breaks: 7
Line Break Assists: 18
* Statistics via www.foxsports.com.au/nrl and Big League Magazine