Townsend to bounce back from NRL hooking

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan appears set to continue with his halves experiment of swapping Chad Townsend and Jack Bird.

Townsend cut a dejected figure on the Canberra Stadium sidelines after being hooked midway through the second half of the Sharks’ gutsy 16-14 NRL finals win over Canberra on Saturday.

Feeling like he needed fresh legs on the park against a tiring Raiders pack, Flanagan made the bold call to bring off Townsend and replace him with outside back Gerard Beale, while pushing Bird into the halves.

Flanagan said the move was just what the side needed at the time, with the ploy paying dividends as his side eked out a memorable win against the odds.

Beale said Flanagan hadn’t ruled making the same changes into the future.

“I guess that’s up to Flanno and whatever’s happening at that moment,” Beale said.

“I got to get in there which was good for me but every game is different and next game I could end up anywhere.”

While Townsend has earned plaudits for his contributions since arriving in the Shire from the Warriors, he had an off night against the Raiders and came up with costly errors.

Flanagan was quick to address Townsend’s concerns in the sheds after the win and Beale said the No.7 had taken it in his stride.

“He’s been sweet, today’s he’s been all smiles and everyone’s happy to be back at training,” Beale said.

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