Shane Flanagan believes the signing of Matt Moylan will give Cronulla back the x-factor they lost when Ben Barba left the club.
The Sharks announced Moylan had signed a four-year deal with the club last week with the 26-year-old having since started training in the shire. Moylan was granted a release from his Penrith contract, with the Panthers expected to announced the signing of Sharks five-eighth James Maloney by the end of the week in what is essentially a swap deal.
Cronulla scored 26 fewer tries last season than they did in their premiership-winning season in 2016. The loss of fullback Barba as well as hooker Michael Ennis, along with Valentine Holmes’ switch to fullback, saw the Sharks forced to build a number of new combinations.
Moylan is certain to start the season at five-eighth with another new signing, Test incumbent Josh Dugan, to replace Brisbane-bound Jack Bird in the centres with Holmes remaining at fullback.
Flanagan told the Leader he was excited with the look of his new backline.
“[Moylan] didn’t have a good end to last season through injury. But if you look back on 2016 he was playing Origin, playing for Australia. So he’s a quality player, we just need to get him fit and healthy and I’m sure he’ll be a massive signing for us,” he said.
“We lacked a little bit with Benny Barba going last year, that flashy brilliance in attack. And I think Matty is a similar type of player. He’s got some really good offensive qualities. I think what he’s going to add to us offensively is going to be enormous. It’ll just give us that little bit of x-factor to create something.
“He’s dangerous, he’s fast. We were 30 tries short of what we scored in ‘17 compared to ‘16. If we get half of those back again we’re going to be a top four side and be dangerous. We’ll defend strong, I know that. But you’ve got to be able to score points too and Matty adds to that.”
Flanagan was also positive about the evolution of Holmes from the wing to fullback. The Queensland star scored only five tries last season after finishing 2016 as Cronulla’s top try-scorer. But Flanagan is confident the 22-year-old will be the man to wear the No.1 jersey.
“Matty will start at five-eighth. It’s Val’s position. I’m quite happy with how he went last year. He’s a different type of fullback. He’s more of a tackle-breaking fullback than a step and swerve,” he said.
“And he’ll evolve, he’ll get better again next year. And his involvement with the Australian team this year, learning off guys like Billy Slater is going to help him.”