Give new Sharks pairing time: Ennis

They have already done enough to ensure boom NRL youngster Jack Bird won’t play in his preferred position.

But new Cronulla halves pairing James Maloney and Chad Townsend may take until mid-season to finally gel as a combination, Mick Ennis warns.

Bird sparked an unlikely Sharks semi-final appearance at pivot last season, earning Rookie of the Year honours.

However, he looks set to battle it out with Valentine Holmes for the fullback spot vacated by Michael Gordon (Eels) or be shifted to centre, with Ennis confirming Maloney and Townsend have nailed down the halves pairing.

Big things are expected from the duo after relocating from the Sydney Roosters and Warriors respectively.

However, Ennis says it may take time for them to live up to the hype.

“Everyone will be looking at them to come out of the blocks and gel straight away,” the hooker told Sky Sports Radio on Wednesday.

“It’s difficult at times to hit the ground running in a key position in a new club straight away.

“He (Maloney) will certainly find his feet in the early part of the season and we will some great football from both those boys come the mid-part of the season.”

But in a promising sign, Ennis said Maloney had already impressed on the training paddock.

“Jimmy has been fantastic. There are a range of things that he will bring to our football club,” he said.

“His communication and organisation as a half, his kicking game is as good as anyone’s.

“And his goalkicking is a huge bonus considering we lost Michael Gordon.

“But more importantly the experience of winning premierships and playing Origin games has a weight in value.

“Especially now he is teaming up with a kid on the rise in Chad Townsend.”

After the Auckland Nines from February 6-7, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan will fine tune his line-up with pre-season trials against Manly (February 14) and Wests Tigers (February 20).

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