Fitzgibbon and Payten's NRL similarities

·2-min read

Cronulla prop Braden Hamlin-Uele says he sees similarities in how Todd Payten and Craig Fitzgibbon approach their work as the pair prepare to make their finals' coaching debuts next weekend.

Fitzgibbon will coach the Sharks and Payten North Queensland in Saturday's qualifying final at PointsBet Stadium - but shared billing on the finals draw isn't all they have in common.

Both new to their head coaching careers, the pair were once teammates in the Sydney Roosters' forward pack and have been touted as candidates for Dally M Coach Of The Year for leading their respective sides back to the finals in 2022.

Payten was Hamlin-Uele's coach during his days playing for the Cowboys' National Youth Competition team and said he and Fitzgibbon were also alike in their approach to man management.

"They both care about you as a person first, and then they worry about you as a footy player," Hamlin-Uele told AAP.

"They're both quite similar in that aspect.

"But they've also got their own coaching styles that seem to be working for both teams."

Hamlin-Uele graduated from Payten's NYC team to the Cowboys' NRL squad but left the club after only one first-grade appearance and joined the Sharks in 2018.

The New Zealand international still incorporates Payten's wisdom into his game, though.

"He taught me not to try to do the spectacular moments all the time, to try and work hard in between the big moments that you have," he said.

"It sort of fell on deaf ears because it was the under 20s and I thought I was the man!

"I love Toddy but I hate him at the moment. We'll be friends come Saturday, after the game. But until then, I hate him."

The Sharks are also preparing to come up against two of their former teammates, Valentine Holmes and Chad Townsend.

"They've had a good season, Val and Chaddy," Sharks captain Wade Graham said.

"They might be looking forward to coming back to Shark Park for a semi final but we won't look (ahead) too far or talk too much about the opposition at this stage

"We'll just get back to Cronulla and dive into the prep during the week."