The premiership-winning half-back in 2016, with a new halves partner and the pressures that came with the departure of James Maloney, Chad Townsend needed to assume greater responsibility at the Sharks and he managed to do just that.
Townsend had arguably some of his best moments at an NRL level in 2018, taking control of the Sharks team and steering them to within one game of the Grand Final.
When big plays were needed, Townsend stepped up to the mark, with the game-winning field goal in the elimination final against the Panthers, a display of his new-found confidence, maturity and ability to seal a result.
Townsend played all 27 Sharks games during the year, his five tries, 62 goals and four crucial field goals, seeing him top the clubs point scoring list at season's end.
The partnership with Matt Moylan in the Sharks halves developed nicely as the season progressed, with all eyes now on how the two playmakers can continue to improve during 2019 and beyond.
With youngster Kyle Flanagan set to enter the mix and with Townsend in career-best form towards the back end of the season, the Sharks are well-equipped in the halves department moving into a new year in 2019.
Photo of the Year
A moment when Townsend stood up. Up against his old halves partner in a do-or-die semi-final, Townsend nailed the winning field goal to progress the Sharks to within one game of the NRL Grand Final
2019 – What's next
They say the half back owns the result and controls the team, with the challenge for Townsend now to improve on what he delivered in 2018 and to take his game, and that of the Sharks, to another level next season.