With the Sharks on the lookout for a new goal kicker for the 2018 season, the contenders strapped on the boots and took to the training paddock on Friday to get in some practice and to potentially audition for the job.
Valentine Holmes, Matt Moylan, Chad Townsend and youngster Kyle Flanagan brought their tees to Southern Cross Group Stadium yesterday for their first official kicking session of the New Year and while the results were mixed, there appears to be a number of options and therefore decisions to be made by coach Shane Flanagan for the season ahead.
In 2017 Holmes was the understudy to James Maloney and despite limited opportunity, managed to kick at an extremely healthy percentage.
While attempting just 12 kicks, Holmes was on target 10 times, for an 83 per cent success rate. During his career Holmes has kicked 23 from 32 for a 72 per cent conversion rate.
Despite Flanagan giving nothing away at this early stage, Holmes seems to be the front runner to inherit the job in 2018.
Of the others, Moylan was used sparingly by the Panthers over the last two seasons due to the emergence of Nathan Cleary, however in the years previous the Sharks new recruit had attempted 47 goals, kicking 29.
There is obviously work to be done for Moylan were he to be anointed first choice goal kicker, but if he can impress over the next few months he too could become an option for Flanagan and the Sharks during the upcoming season.
Local boy Townsend is another with something to offer in the goal kicking department. A prolific point scorer and kicker growing up in the Sutherland Shire junior competitions and then in the Sharks lower grades, Townsend has mostly been the second choice kicker since making his top-grade debut in 2011 at both Cronulla and for two seasons at the Warriors.
His tally of 50 goals from 85 attempts may not rank him amongst the best kickers in the game, although if Townsend is anything he is dedicated to the cause and with practice and application could improve his success rate considerably.
Then throwing a spanner in the works is youngster Flanagan, who may just be the most accomplished kicker amongst the group.
Flanagan smashed point scoring records in last year’s Holden Cup competition, kicking an incredible 137 goals from 169 at 81 per cent. Were he to make his debut in the NRL at some stage during 2018, don’t be surprised to see him lining up to add the extras after a try had been scored.
There is still practice to be done and time to decide, with Flanagan set to consider the possibilities before handing over the kicking duties ahead of the start of the season-proper in early March.