No.1 question for Flano ahead of Cronulla Sharks - St George Illawarra Dragons derby

First choice: Valentine Holmes will return from injury against the Dragons on Sunday. Picture: John Veage
First choice: Valentine Holmes will return from injury against the Dragons on Sunday. Picture: John Veage

It is a problem most NRL coaches would love to have.

Who would you play at fullback – Valentine Holmes or Jack Bird?

Cronulla head into their local derby with bitter rivals St George Illawarra on Sunday with a selection headache for coach Shane Flanagan on the back of the Sharks’ comprehensive thrashing of Canberra last weekend.

Holmes was expected to replace premiership-winning fullback Ben Barba in the No.1 jersey after Barba was released by the club during pre-season. But Holmes has missed the opening two rounds with a hamstring problem, opening the door firstly for Gerard Beale, only for the New Zealand international to also suffer a hamstring injury.

That gave Bird a chance at fullback against the Raiders on Saturday night, an opportunity he took with both hands.

The 21-year-old was outstanding against Canberra to leave Flanagan with a big decision ahead of the clash with the Dragons at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

No.1 star: Jack Bird was outstanding at fullback for Cronulla against Canberra. Picture: Chris Lane

No.1 star: Jack Bird was outstanding at fullback for Cronulla against Canberra. Picture: Chris Lane

“Val will be available [against the Dragons],” Flanagan said. 

“That’s probably about it, I would think. Gerard Beale will probably be [out for] another week or two.

“Val will be back. So some selection issues after a win is always a good problem to have.”

Some selection issues after a win is always a good problem to have.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan

Cronulla captain Paul Gallen understands as well as anyone the history – and rivalry – between the Sharks and Dragons and said he was looking forward to the clash as much as ever.

“We’ve got a big game [this] week,” he said. 

Best enemies: Dragons captain Gareth Widdop (left) and Sharks skipper Paul Gallen on stage at the NRL season launch late last month. Picture: John Veage

Best enemies: Dragons captain Gareth Widdop (left) and Sharks skipper Paul Gallen on stage at the NRL season launch late last month. Picture: John Veage

“It’s going to be a really, really good crowd down at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

“[I’m] really looking forward to that one, a local derby. The form goes out the window and comes down to a pretty tough game.”

Kick-off is at 6.30pm.