Holmes might remain on Sharks wing: coach

He has been described as “everyone’s first choice fullback” at Cronulla by none other than coach Shane Flanagan.

But Valentine Holmes is a real chance of remaining on the right wing and Jackson Bird wearing the No.1 jersey in 2017 for the NRL defending premiers.

Flanagan admitted Holmes was a better fit at fullback than fellow contender Bird in the wake of custodian Ben Barba’s controversial off-season release.

But the lack of a glaring replacement on the wing might ensure Holmes stays on the Sharks’ flanks.

“Probably from a team structure point of view, ‘Val’ could be the best one but I’m not striking Birdy off that list just as yet,” Flanagan told Sharks TV.

“Birdy’s got a head start there. He’s been at training for a couple of weeks there but I’m sure it’s probably more about who’s going to stand up and take Val’s right-wing spot.”

Flanagan said the prospect of Bird at fullback did appeal.

“Val’s obviously everyone’s first-choice fullback but Birdy does that fullback role really well. He finds it comfortable and gets to roam both sides of the field,” he said.

“Unfortunately with Birdy playing right centre, he sometimes gets locked in there and his strength is turning up everywhere.”

Flanagan admitted there would be plenty of speculation over who would play fullback – and he didn’t intend ending it any time soon with a final call.

“There’ll be speculation over Christmas and into when we start playing, who’s going to be that fullback, like there was last year,” he said.

“I’ll just let them speculate for a while and you’ll have to turn up here on that Thursday night (Cronulla’s season opener against Brisbane).”

Flanagan said an injury to Gold Coast recruit Daniel Mortimer had hampered his quest to find a replacement for retired hooker Mick Ennis.

He said Mortimer, Manaia Cherrington, Jayden Brailey and Fa’amanu Brown would all be considered at No.9 in pre-season trials.

“Mortimer can play there (hooker) but Daniel’s … hurt his hamstring and hasn’t been in the main training group,” Flanagan said.

“He can play seven, six and nine and I bought him for that utility value.

“He can put a bit of pressure on (halves) Chad (Townsend) and Jimmy (Maloney) as well.”

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