The legendary Storm fullback has sung Cronulla’s praises following its 40-6 drubbing of Manly at Brookvale Oval on Saturday, which chalked up the Sharks’ ninth win from their last 10 encounters.
The rebooted Sharks sit in third on the ladder after round 23 and will meet the Bulldogs and Knights in their last two games of the regular season, before ending a one-year finals exile.
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“They’re the sleeping giants, the Sharks. I think everyone’s got them probably fourth or fifth … in the race for the premiership, but I think they’re just going under the radar,” Slater said on Wide World of Sports’ Billy’s Breakdown.
“They’re playing a great brand of football.
“I love the way that their halves connect. They play to their strengths.”
Slater rolled out vision of halfback Nicho Hynes and five-eighth Matt Moylan linking up against the Sea Eagles, revealing Hynes’ expertise in floating between halfback and fullback.
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Hynes stamped himself as a star of the competition in 2021, mostly playing as Melbourne’s fullback, filling in for the injured Ryan Papenhuyzen, before he arrived at Cronulla and was handed the No.7 jersey.
Slater showed a play in the Sharks’ win against the Sea Eagles in which Hynes joined the attacking line deep in Manly territory on the right edge and rifled a sublime cut-out to winger Matt Ikuvalu, who scored untouched.
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“(Head coach) Craig Fitzgibbon has just created this accountability around him to give him that freedom,” Slater said.
“The players around (him) — you can see on that Ikuvalu try — gave Nicho plenty of time and width to use his skill.
“So, Craig Fitzgibbon, (assistant coach) Josh Hannay — they’ve all done a fantastic job down there at the Shire.
“They’re the sleeping giants. Just be careful of the Sharks.”
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