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As fullback-in-waiting Valentine Holmes is forced to sit out the World Club Challenge through injury, Sharks Coach Shane Flanagan has anointed Gerard Beale and Jack Bird the men to lead from the back against the Wigan Warriors.

With Bird having expressed his desire to fulfil the role ahead of the 2016 season – and Beale having made 21 NRL starts at the back – Flanagan said Sunday’s Challenge will be a test to the depth of the Sharks’ stocks.

‌"Gerard and Birdy will share the fullback role against Wigan," Flanagan told the AAP, in London.

"Val's not here, he's our first choice but it was always going to be a challenge this year where to play him.

"He wants to play fullback and I think he can be a really good fullback.

"But it was probably 12 months quicker than we'd have preferred but with Ben (Barba) going, it is what it is, and Val will do a job there.

"But this game will give us options."

Familiar with the ‘1’ resting on his back, Gerard Beale was a regular at fullback in his time spent at the Broncos and Dragons, respectively.

“Fullback’s definitely a position I enjoy playing,” Beale said.

“It gives you a chance to roam from one side of the field to another … to pick your moments when to chime into the attack.”

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Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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