Sharks sign Maloney, chase Townsend in NRL

Cronulla have set their sights on enticing local junior Chad Townsend back home to partner prized signing James Maloney in what will be a potent halves combination next NRL season.

The Sharks announced on Friday they had landed the signature of the 29-year-old Maloney on a three-year deal from the beginning of 2016.

And with the finishing touches just about set on skipper Paul Gallen’s one-year extension, coach Shane Flanagan revealed Townsend was firmly on their radar.

“Chad’s expressed his interest,” Flanagan said on Friday.

“He wants to come back home, so we’re working hard on that one.

“But nothing’s been guaranteed just as yet.”

Despite speculation Maloney was close to re-signing with the Roosters, the former NSW State of Origin representative agreed to terms with the club on Thursday night.

Flanagan said Maloney’s ability with the boot would be a huge asset for a side that had struggled to replace the attacking nous of former point man Todd Carney since sacking him last year.

Back-up halves Fa’amanu Brown and Kyle Stanley were also lost to ACL injuries early in the season.

“If anyone watched the game last week for the Roosters (against the Warriors), he single-handedly won it for the Roosters,” he said.

“Moving forward, it’s a great signing for our club.

“His attacking ability, his general field kicking and his over 80 per cent goalkicking is a massive boost for the club.”

Cronulla will be Maloney’s fourth NRL club, having previously played with Melbourne, the Warriors and Roosters.

He has never re-signed with a club.

Flanagan also said the Sharks were close to announcing a new deal for Gallen that would see him finish his NRL career as a one-club player.

“Gal’s contract’s not an easy one because it’s his last year at the club,” he said.

“There’s some concessions in there that, with the NRL, we can obtain.

“So we’re just going to make sure that we do that and we’re working really hard with the NRL to get that finalised.

“We’d like to think that’d get done before the next Origin.”

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