Cronulla like a different club: Townsend

For prodigal son Chad Townsend, the Cronulla preparing for NRL season 2016 is unrecognisable from the one he left two years ago.

The 24-year departed an embattled Sharks outfit mired in the ASADA drama at the end of 2013 to move to the Warriors.

The local junior has returned to find a club that has bounced back well and truly from its darkest days, as evidenced by their semi-final finish last season.

“The first day I walked in I couldn’t believe the changes they have made and the number of staff they now have here,” Townsend told AAP.

“That is definitely a positive moving forward.

“They have gone through a lot in that period and come out the other end and it is a great place to be now.”

After lifting his game in his two years alongside Kiwis star Shaun Johnson in New Zealand, Townsend is set to partner key signing James Maloney in the Sharks halves.

The acquisition of Maloney could be the key ingredient in Cronulla finally breaking their NRL title drought, according to Townsend.

“You could say he is a winner, he has been winning for quite a while,” Townsend said.

“He made a grand final with the Warriors, won a grand final with the Roosters and he has played State of Origin.

“To be in a team with someone like that who has a reputation to be a winner is definitely something I want to be a part of.”

Townsend played 41 NRL matches for the Warriors in 2014 and 2015. He played 19 games for Cronulla between 2011 and 2013.

“I always backed myself and backed my ability and I was looking for an opportunity and the Warriors gave that to me,” Townsend said.

“I had some really good coaching over there from Andrew McFadden, being an ex-halfback himself. He was really high on the tactical stuff about footy and helped my running game massively.

“I know I am definitely a better player having gone over there and experienced those two years in New Zealand.”

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