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Sharks Team of the Decade – 2010-2020 – Utilities

The impact the interchange players have on game can have a huge bearing on the success or otherwise of an NRL team.

When the starters need a rest and but maintaining the momentum is crucial, coaches need replacement players to bring energy and enthusiasm.

Players with a variety of skills, those who can over a number of positions should a starter suffer an injury, also become critical to the balance of a 17-man NRL squad.

In the current era, with interchange something of a science in the modern game, filling the 14-17 jerseys is crucial.  

That being the case, we throw it over to you to choose your bench for your Sharks Team of the Decade.

Will you pick the best four available, the four players who narrowly missed out on making your run on team?

Alternatively, are you looking for a balance, not necessarily the very best players, but those who complement your starting 13?

We’ve reminded you and offered ‘tip sheets’ on the best and most prominent positional players to represent the Sharks over the past the decade, now we’ll throw a few names up who have made their mark and contributed to the team’s success while primarily playing their careers in either a bench utility role or as an interchange player.

Then its over to you to select your Team of the Decade, a Sharks squad 1-17 which you believe to be the best from 2010 to the currently suspended 2020 season.

 

Utilities

Early in the decade the interchange bench duties were shared by the likes of props Sosaia Vave, Broderick Wright, Josh Cordoba and Adam Cuthberston, along with hooker Paul Aiton, however by 2011 an imposing forward named Sam Tagataese would make his presence felt almost every time he was injected into the game.

Over the next seven seasons, Tagataese would come off the bench and into the contest where he struck fear into his opponents with his size, strength and speed, becoming somewhat the prototype of the modern interchange forward, a player without maybe the endurance to play big minutes but who could make an impact in short stints on the field.

As a young front rower Andrew Fifita was used in a similar role in 2012 and 2013 before developing into a starter, while in 2013 classy back rower Anthony Tupou was increasingly used off the interchange bench towards the end of a long and illustrious career and to good effect.

Jayson Bukuya became a player who had the versatility to play a number of different positions and roles as his best work increasingly came when used as an impact player, with Chris Heighington another man for all occasions ready to perform whatever job required.

Tagataese, Bukuya and Heighington would become three of the four Sharks bench players during the 2016 season and in the Grand Final victory over the Storm.

The decade also saw some backs on the bench as cover for potential injury, Gerard Beale the fourth interchange player in that 2016 premiership decider, while the trend was often to play two hookers, almost right up until 2015-16 when Michael Ennis made the position his own.

James Segeyaro, with his attacking style suited to coming into the game when the opposition forwards were slowing down, became the back-up nine during the 2017 and 2018 seasons following Ennis’s retirement.

Tracking back, current coach John Morris was a starting hooker in 2011, went back to the bench in support of Isaac De Gois in 2012, before the roles were reversed and it was De Gois to come off the bench in 2013 and 2014 before injury cut short his final season at the club.

Then there are the genuine utility players, those without perhaps a best position in a starting 13 but capable of doing a job whenever and wherever necessary.

Kurt Capewell springs immediately to mind, the Queensland-native talented enough to play anywhere from wing to back row.

Similarly, Joseph Paulo was a little more robust and more suited to the forwards, but with the skills to play in the halves or at hooker if the situation required. Scott Sorensen and youngster Billy Magoulias in the current Sharks team more examples of versatile types who can fill in where needed.

But in selecting your team of the decade, do you go for genuine bench players, those who had impact on a game but in a back up role, or perhaps an established starter who was squeezed out when selecting your first 13?

We’ll leave that to you. However we ask you to choose wisely and to send us your best 17, your Sharks team of the last decade.

 

Download the Sharks Team of the Decade template here and start filling it out today - once you've finished your squad, upload a picture to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag our pages plus use the hashtag #UpUp - or email your sheet to [email protected].