It was a quiet meeting between Cronulla’s new spine that has catapulted the Sharks to a top of the table – and halfback Chad Townsend onto the representative scene.
Cronulla, who have won their last six games in a row, have a number of players in action for the NRL’s representative round this weekend.
As well as Paul Gallen and Gerard Beale lining up for Australia and New Zealand in the Test match in Newcastle tomorrow night, Cronulla have provided three of the four halves for the City versus Country match in Tamworth on Sunday.
Townsend is Cronulla’s only City representative, with Sharks teammates Jack Bird and James Maloney named for Country.
Townsend is in career-best form having steered Cronulla to the top of the table after nine rounds with a number of mature performances as part of the Sharks’ new spine.
The 25-year-old told The Leader it was a meeting between him, Maloney and Michael Ennis after round three that sparked the trio’s form.
“I think [our form] is down to the combinations we’ve formed,” he said.
“We’ve got our new spine and we’ve worked really hard on it since day one of pre-season.
“We always knew it would take time but we had a big discussion how to improve the team and the structure.
“It was actually after that loss to Manly we had a big heart to heart and were really honest with each other.
“At the end of the day it’s about team success, not individual success.”
Townsend’s form was rewarded with his first senior representative appearance this weekend alongside nine fellow rep debutants in the City side.
And it’s not just the blue and gold jersey the Yarrawarrah Tigers junior will cherish, but the chance to rub shoulders with one of his idols – Brad Fittler.
“When I was a young bloke I was a massive Freddy Fittler fan,” he said.
“The massive step, the way he played the game… it’s great with him coaching us I’ve been able to just go up to him and ask a question or get some advice.
“A lot of boys are playing their first senior rep game as well so we’ve all sort of come together over that and it’s a great bunch of boys.”
Added to Townsend’s challenge on Sunday will be taking on Sharks teammates Bird and Maloney. And the only thing he is sure of is that it will be a different experience.
“I’m not too sure how it’ll go,” he said.
“Jimmy is a bit of a larrikin, we should be on opposite sides to each other so we might be sending some big back-rowers at each other.
“It’ll be a bit of fun, I’m looking forward to a bit of banter but after the game we’ll shake hands.”
See next Wednesday’s Leader for more with Chad Townsend on what his rep debut means to him and a look at Cronulla’s clash with Newcastle.