Backs to the wall for gummy Sharkies
A BROKEN jaw to rookie winger Sione Katoa could force Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan into an early season backline makeover, including shifting Valentine Holmes from fullback.
Described by Flanagan as a “future superstar”, Katoa was unable to return to Sydney with the rest of the Cronulla squad after having surgery in Townsville yesterday.
On debut in the Sharks’ error-riddled 20-14 loss to North Queensland on Friday night, Katoa’s NRL dream was crushed by the reality that he now faces up to eight weeks on the sideline.
Replacing Katoa, 20, isn’t the only issue for Flanagan, with 307-game forward Luke Lewis facing between two and six weeks out with a foot injury suffered 24 hours before kickoff against the Cowboys.
Ahead of the Sharks’ huge local-derby clash with St George Illawarra at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Thursday, Flanagan declared he would “assess every option available” when it comes to replacing Katoa and Lewis.
“I’m really disappointed for Sione and Luke, but if there’s one thing I know about both of the boys is that they’ll do everything possible to be fit and ready to return once their injuries heal,’’ Flanagan said.
“We’ll all work hard to cover Lewy (Lewis) and as far as Sione is concerned, I’m extremely fortunate to have depth in our outside backs so we’ll take our time to assess every option available to us.’’’
Given Holmes’ status as one of the world’s best wingers, the Test star would prove an easy solution on the right wing for Flanagan. But Holmes had a night to forget in the No. 1 jumper against the Cowboys.
Rookie Sharks winger Sione Katoa has a broken jaw.