The playmakers, the halves and five eighths, as they do at all clubs and in all rugby league teams, have played an integral role in the success or otherwise of the Sharks over their 50 years in the top flight competition.

Coming up with just six was a difficult assignment, with the eventual list containing a collection of great clubmen, an international star and a player who most recent had a major influence on the Sharks claiming their maiden NRL title.

Amongst them was Chris Wellman, a player fondly remembered for his class and attacking ability having played in the Sharks first Grand Final appearance back in 1973. 

After Wellman came English international Roger Millward, diminutive in stature but a player who left a huge impression during a short stint in the mid ‘70’s.

Then there was local products Mitch Healey and Adam Dykes, a pair who dominated the five eighth spot for a number of years in some highly competitive Sharks outfits, and for those who didn’t see him play, Michael Speechley’s, take it as gospel that his defence had to be seen to be believed.

Most recently it was James Maloney, the goal-kicking number six outstanding in his lone season at the club in 2016.

All six short-listed five eighths were important members of their respective teams, which one will be chosen in the Sharks Team of the Half Century?

 

The Nominees

 

Chris Wellman

Sometimes forgotten for his role in helping the Sharks become a premiership force in 1973, Chris Wellman was a player of class and one unlucky not to finish his career with a resume full of representative rugby league appearances heavily featured.  

Graded by the Sharks from the Sutherland club in 1969, Wellman played 132 games for the Club over six seasons, 81 were in first grade and included amongst that tally the 1973 Grand Final against Manly.

An integral member of the ’73 team, Tommy Bishop, his captain-coach that particular season was left shocked when Wellman’s name wasn’t read out with the Kangaroo team to tour the UK and France later that year.

A gifted attacking player who also displayed the necessary toughness to excel in an uncompromising era of rugby league, Wellman could score a try from almost any situation.

A player definitely worthy of serious consideration for a place in the Sharks Team of the Half Century.

 

Michael Speechley

A slightly built five eighth there wasn’t much of Michael Speechley, however what he lacked in size he certainly made up for in heart, toughness and skill.

While his attacking ability may be somewhat underrated by some, that was only for the fact that his copybook low tackling regularly caught the eye, with Speechley’s grass-cutters ever reliable in the Sharks defensive systems.

Played 119 games over seven seasons in some quality Sharks teams, scoring 13 tries, playing alongside the likes of Barry Russell, Gavin Miller and David Hatch, while taking on the playmaker role for his outside backs of that era who included Andrew Ettingshausen, Mark McGaw and Jonathan Docking.

A true ‘team’ man, Speechley certainly wouldn’t be out of place in the Sharks Team of the Half Century.

 

Roger Millward

The English international wasn’t here for a long time, but he was here for a good time as the saying goes, with his on-field exploits leaving a lasting impression on those who saw him play.

With a left-foot kicking game which had the ability to turn a match in favour of his team, combined with his skilful ball playing ability, MIllward’s class was evident each time he took to the field.

Played 46 times for England or Great Britain and an amazing 400-plus games for Hull Kingston Rovers, his cameo season at the Sharks was a coup for the club at the time with Millward at the peak of his powers and rated as perhaps the premier half-five eighth of his era.

Such was the respect Hull had for Millward his number six jersey was retired upon his passing in 2016.

Not a Shark for long, but one of the greatest to ever represent the club.

 

Mitch Healey

A player others loved having by their side, Healey who would go on to play 223 top grade games over 11 seasons, in a great display of durability and resilience.

Healey’s organisational ability at five-eighth and his finely-tuned kicking game made him the focal point of the Cronulla attack for almost a decade.

A local boy from the Engadine Dragons, Healey scored 33 tries, kicked 139 goals and potted eight field goals for a career points tally of 418 in displaying his all-around worth to the Sharks during the years in which he played.

A member of the 1997 Super League side that took on the Broncos in the Grand Final, partnering current Cowboys Coach Paul Green in the halves, Healey also represented the Sharks in finals series in 1995, 1996 and 1999.

Playing in an era that included the likes of Brad Fittler, Laurie Daley, Darren Lockyer, Andrew Johns, and Ricky Stuart, higher honours evaded him, however that certainly doesn’t diminish Healey’s contribution to the Cronulla Club and his claims to a place as five eighth in the Sharks Team of the Half Century.

 

Adam Dykes

A player with immense skill, if Adam Dykes was to be underestimated by opposition defences it would certainly be to their detriment.

A product of the local De La Salle club, Dykes burst onto the scene in the premiership winning Sharks President’s Cup team of 1994 and quickly made the transition to the top grade.

One of the most talented juniors to play for the Sharks, Dykes debuted as an 18-year-old in 1995 before going on to make 183 appearances in two stints at the club.

Left at the end of 2001 after seven seasons in the top grade, before returning to the Sharks to play three more years from 2005-2007.

An attacking genius on his day, Dykes was one of the very best playmakers to wear the blue, black and white of the Sharks

 

James Maloney

Only a Shark for one season, but what a year is it was.

With James Maloney directing traffic, making line breaks and kicking goals under intense pressure, the Sharks went on to claim their maiden NRL title.

Played 25 games in 2016, missing just one match with injury and a second game due to State of Origin commitments, Maloney kicked 94 goals, scored seven tries and potted three field goals in showing why Coach Shane Flanagan was so keen to lure him across to the Sutherland Shire following a career which spanned three years at the Sydney Roosters after playing for the Storm and Warriors prior to that.

Played all three Origin matches for NSW this season and was named in the Australian Four Nations squad at years end, running out for two games for the Kangaroos during the tournament.

In just a short stint in Sharks colours Maloney made a major contribution in their breakthrough season. Is it enough to include him as the five eighth in the Sharks Team of the Half Century? 

Vote now on the Sharks' Five-Eighth of the Half Century below!