Josh Dugan is close to a return for the Sharks. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Josh Dugan is close to a return for the Sharks. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Flanagan must bite bullet on Cronulla conundrum

CRONULLA coach Shane Flanagan faces a decision that could have implications for the short and long-term success of the club.

While it seems unlikely, Josh Dugan's impending return from injury could push the in-form Valentine Holmes back to the wing, despite the Queensland star's very public intentions to stay at No.1.

Flanagan recently stated that he intended to keep Holmes at fullback upon Dugan's return.

Should Dugan return at centre - a position he played earlier in the season before being shifted to fullback due to Holmes's poor form - a high-profile player will be forced to make way.

 

Jesse Ramien is arguably the form centre in the competition, but he played in the NSW Cup to begin the season when Dugan was preferred.

Ricky Leutele hasn't missed a minute for the Sharks this season and has been a stalwart in the backline since winning the 2016 premiership with the club.

Another option is shifting Leutele to the wing, a position he has minimal NRL experience in, and dropping either of Sione Katoa or Edrick Lee, who have both impressed in their own regard this year.

Valentine Holmes has been in fine form at fullback for the Sharks. Picture: Getty Images
Valentine Holmes has been in fine form at fullback for the Sharks. Picture: Getty Images

The alternative move that presents a far more balanced outcome, but with arguably less upside, is to bring Dugan in at fullback and put Holmes back on the wing, where he can still be injected through the middle of the field.

But Holmes, 22, is strongly rumoured to want to return home to Townsville to play for the Cowboys when his contract expires at the end of 2019.

And if Flanagan opts to play Dugan at fullback against Brisbane on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium, it could well be the final nail in the hopes of retaining Holmes in the Shire.



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