Sharks cop fresh blow after Nicho Hynes backlash as worrying detail exposes ugly NRL truth

Cronulla have suffered another setback after a testing month in the NRL.

Cronulla have been dealt another blow after crashing to their fourth NRL defeat in five games, with star winger Sione Katoa ruled out of Friday's clash against the Gold Coast due to concussion. Katoa scored a try before Nicho Hynes missed a field goal in the Sharks' heartbreaking golden point loss to Canterbury. But the electric winger was forced to sit out of training on Monday after delayed concussion symptoms stemming from the match.

The speedster will now miss the crunch home match against the Titans this Friday night, as per the NRL's 11-day mandatory stand-down policy for concussions. It comes as yet another blow to a Sharks side reeling from four defeats in their last five games - a run of form that's seen them slip from the top of the table down to third.

Pictured right to left, Sione Katoa and Cronulla teammate Nicho Hynes.
Sione Katoa has been ruled out of Cronulla's next match with concussion after backlash around Nicho Hynes. Pic: Getty

Craig Fitzgibbon's men are still in a strong position and it would take a disaster for them to fall outside the top eight and miss out on finals footy this season. But what began as a brilliant start to the season that included 11 wins from their first 12 games, has turned into somewhat of a concern for the Sharks over the last month.

Hynes has had a rough few weeks after being criticised for failing to ice games for the Sharks, with his missed field goal in golden point against the Bulldogs costing Cronulla victory on Friday night. Hynes also missed a tricky sideline conversion after the siren in Cronulla's previous game - the 30-28 loss to the Dolphins.


While those key misses may have rocked the confidence of Hynes, a quick look at some of the numbers around Cronulla's recent defeats shows a worrying trend that has crept into their game. It's perhaps no surprise that when Fitzgibbon's side topped the table earlier in the season they were completing more sets and making less errors than they are at the moment.

Seen here, Cronulla star Nicho Hynes.
Nicho Hynes has copped his fair share of backlash over Cronulla's four losses in the past five games. Pic: Getty

Statistics from Cronulla's past five games show they are making more errors, missing more tackles and running less metres per carry than in the club's first 10 games of the season. They are also scoring 11.5 points less per game and conceding 10.8 points more, while breaking the line two less times per match and breaking three less tackles.

Fitzgibbon prides himself on defence but the Sharks are also allowing opposition attacks six more offloads per game (14 compared to 8) than they were earlier in the season. Apart from the 42-0 trouncing by the Panthers in round 12 before Origin Game 1, Cronulla's defeats have come in relatively close games though and second-rower Teig Wilton said it was just a number of small areas they need to fine tune, rather than any major issues holding the side back.

"It's just getting back to honouring our style of play and doing the little things right," Wilton said. "We haven't been too far off, but when we don't get a couple of things right, we compound our errors and lose our way a bit. Just managing that, and understanding if things are getting away from us, getting back on track quicker."

Sharks forward Jack Williams said it was all about finding their consistency again but insisted Cronulla were "not in panic mode". Williams and Wilton both threw their support behind Hynes after some of the recent backlash he's copped from fans who've suggested he's gaining a reputation for failing to deliver in the clutch.

"I'm not for (the scrutiny on him)," Williams said. "It's hard seeing your mates get hounded. All we can do is get around him. What I see when he comes in here is he is happy. He works super hard. I think that motivates him to be honest. You don't want to poke the bear, because he will probably come out and do what he has done the last couple of years."

with AAP