Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan reckons most rugby league fans would be hard pressed naming his team’s back three but it was the unheralded trio who starred in the Sharks’ 20-7 NRL win over South Sydney on Saturday night.
Fullback Matthew Wright and wingers John Williams and Nathan Stapleton were immense for the Sharks with impressive all-round displays at Toyota Park in the win that moves them closer to their first finals appearance since 2008.
The trio not only had to contend with damaging edge runners like Greg Inglis and David Taylor, they had to weather a vast array of kicks from the likes of Adam Reynolds, John Sutton and Inglis, who produced some towering bombs.
But time and again, they held their nerve and it was fitting that journeyman Williams scored a 45-metre try on fulltime after great lead-up work from hooker Isaac De Gois.
“They’re not superstars Matty Wright, Stapo and Johnny Williams … most rugby league supporters would be lucky to know who they are,” Flanagan said.
“But they do a really good job and we need those players to stand up and do their jobs.
“We’ve got some things in place to make sure that they don’t have to jump out of their box and do anything exceptional … we just need to do our job across the field.
“They (back three) did a real good job and I was pleased for Johnny to score a try there at the end.”