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Sharks spine keen to show some ‘backbone'

These days they call it the 'spine' and many keen judges rate having a good one, crucial to your teams chances of success.

The rugby league 'spine', as in the fullback, half, five eighth and hooker, controls much of what goes on during the course of a match.

For the Sharks, Chad Townsend and Jayden Brailey have been mainstays in 2018, playing every game in their respective roles, however the five eighth and fullback positions, due to injury, form and coach preference, has seen plenty of change through the opening six rounds.

Valentine Holmes, Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan have all played in the number one jersey, Trent Hopkinson and Moylan at five eighth, this week however, Coach Shane Flanagan has gone back to the way he had it planned.

"This is the way we trained most of the off-season. We trained for four months with this spine," Flanagan said of his team for the Panthers game on Sunday.

Dugan will play at the back, Moylan at five eighth, Brailey and Townsend where they've been all along.

Happy to play wherever the team needs him, Dugan is nonetheless pleased to get the chance to show his wares in the fullback role for the crucial game against the Panthers.

"Injuries forced Flano's hand. We had a few injuries in key positions. Moyza, then me, Feki has got this knee now as well," Dugan said.

"Moyza's back at six, I'm at one, and I'm looking forward to getting back there and getting my hands on the ball. I'll jut do my job and go out there and play the best I can.

"That's the way Flano sees it at the moment and that's the way it will be."

As for the talk that abounds that Holmes is a disgruntled winger, both Flanagan and Dugan disputed that notion, the man himself coming out earlier in the week, saying said he was happy to play wherever he was required.

Playing on the wing, Holmes has scored three tries in his last two games, with that kind of strike rate putting the smile back on his face.

"Val's happy scoring tries. At the moment his best position for us is on the wing," Flanagan said.

While Dugan added; "He's putting the team first and his best spot for us at the moment is on the wing. He's a freak the way he plays."

With the Sharks looking to show some backbone in a bid to return to the winner's circle, it could all start with the 'spine' at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Sunday.

Acknowledgement of Country

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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