It was an unenviable situation for young local product Jayden Brailey, coming into a team that had tasted premiership glory and where many were hailing retired hooker Michael Ennis as one of the main reasons for the Sharks success.
But step into the role he did and Brailey managed to do it with class and composure, with his debut season one of the highlights of 2017 for the Sharks.
Brailey won the dummy half role following an outstanding pre-season, playing his first game at the top level in the World Club Challenge against Wigan in the UK, before returning home and becoming the 507th Sharks First Grade player in the round one game at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
The Sharks didn’t get the result in that first game against the Broncos but it became apparent that they had found a number nine capable of competing in the NRL and filling the very large hole left by Ennis’s departure.
A broken jaw in round 16 was a setback, however Brailey took it all in his stride, returning two games before the finals and stepping back into the team as if he had never been gone.
Played 19 NRL matches in 2017 and with a bright future ahead, chances are will play many more in the years to come.
Season highlight: It came early and it was a defining moment in the Sharks season as well as in the young career of Brailey. The shoes of Ennis were always going to be difficult to fill, however in round two the Sharks knew they had someone ready to step in and do the job at dummy half. Brailey backed up to score a try, his first in the NRL, in the Sharks 42-16 win, but it was his all-around game, from his defence, to his service, to the support play which saw him touch down under the posts, which had coaching staff and fans alike excited about the prospects.
2017 Stats: Jayden Brailey
Games played: 19
Dummy half runs: 32
Run Metres: 581
Line breaks: 2
Average tackles: 36.5