The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks are circling and it seems almost certain that Beau Ryan and Chris Heighington will head to The Shire in 2013. But how is Coach Stuart Flanagan going to fit everybody in?
With Michael Gordon guaranteed the fullback role, incumbent and rising star Nathan Gardner is now on the outer. So too is former Australian Schoolboy Matthew Wright.
While Gardner was injured for most of 2012, Wright filled in amicably at the back and would be dirty to go from a starter back to NSW Cup in such a short amount of time.
Gardner’s position in the side is a funny one. The enigmatic fullback has been a regular starter for the Sharks since debuting in 2010. Pushing him to the wing may not be an option either with Beau Ryan set to snare one spot and Nathan Stapleton the other.
The club is still trying to offload backrowers Jeremy Smith and Anthony Tupou to free up room in the salary cap.
With Smith and Tupou gone, the Sharks could start moving forward for 2013. The sky is the limit for a new-look Sharks outfit that boasts Luke Lewis, Todd Carney, Paul Gallen and Michael Gordon.
Ryan’s signing has come as a shock to many with The Footy Show favourite having a breakout year for the Wests Tigers.
“There was never a contract put in front of us,” Ryan’s agent Wayne Beavis told The Telegraph on Monday.
“I don’t know whose fault it is. Beau might have thought he was going to stay but we never signed anything.
“That’s just the way it has happened.”
After a wonderful season for Cronulla, Wade Graham should still be able to keep Heighington out of the starting side. The former Penrith Panther has been a revelation for the Sharks in 2012 and could quite possibly be a future State of Origin player.
It certainly is a fantastic looking side on paper.
But reality and perception are two completely different things. We are still talking about the Cronulla Sharks and there is plenty of water to flow under Tom Ugly’s Bridge before next year’s finals.
Possible 2013 Sharks side:
1 Michael Gordon
2 Beau Ryan
3 Ben Pomeroy
4 Jonathan Wright
5 Nathan Stapleton
6 Todd Carney
7 Jeff Robson
8 Bryce Gibbs
9 Isaac De Gois
10 Ben Ross
11 Luke Lewis
12 Wade Graham
13 Paul Gallen
14 Chris Heighington
15 Andrew Fifita
16 Jayson Bukuya
17 John Morris