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Trindall's Sharks return ends 'uncomfortable' saga

Craig Fitzgibbon says it has been "uncomfortable" deliberating Braydon Trindall's immediate playing future but is now confident the Cronulla playmaker has learned a "painful lesson" and is ready to return.

Thursday's clash against Parramatta will be Trindall's first NRL appearance since he failed roadside drug and alcohol tests driving on an expired licence on the morning of April 22.

Pleading guilty at Sutherland Local Court on Tuesday, the Sharks playmaker received a $1100 fine and a three-month ban from driving.

The NRL is expected to impose its own punishment, issuing Trindall with a breach notice on Tuesday, but did not subject Trindall to its no-fault stand-down policy.

That left Cronulla in a tricky situation, needing to both support Trindall and determine on their own how much time was appropriate for him to spend sidelined.

The Sharks initially stood Trindall down to focus on his mental health and seek support outside the club, though the 24-year-old has been back training this month.

But Cronulla were also wary of bringing Trindall back into the gameday 17 too soon, lest the NRL impose its own suspension and open up old wounds.

The Sharks are now hopeful Trindall will not need to spend more time on the sidelines, given five weeks have already elapsed since his last NRL appearance.

"It's been a little bit uncomfortable, to be honest, the 'What ifs'," said Sharks coach Fitzgibbon.

"'What if we put him in? What if we don't?', all that sort of stuff.

"But we've landed on the fact that he's playing this weekend and getting him as best as he can be prepared for this game. What he has done behind the scenes is do everything possible to prove to the NRL that he's learnt a lesson, a painful one at that.

"He's working hard on himself and it won't happen again."

Nicho Hynes' secondment to State of Origin camp has provided an opportunity for Trindall to slot straight back into the halves opposite Daniel Atkinson, who has shone in his absence.

Nicho Hynes.
Nicho Hynes poses for a photo during a NSW Blues media day in Sydney. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Trindall will wear Hynes' No.7 jersey but Fitzgibbon expects he and Atkinson will share game-managing duties.

"Both have got strong kicking games so they'll complement each other there," Fitzgibbon said.

"Tricky hasn't played in five weeks as well so it's about getting out there and keeping it simple, getting back to the basics of what a half can do."

Fitzgibbon's right-hand man Josh Hannay has publicly declared his interest in the Eels coaching job that will become vacant from 2025; struggling Parramatta sacked long-time coach Brad Arthur earlier this month and installed Trent Barrett as interim replacement.

Also a popular member of Billy Slater's Queensland staff, Hannay is rated one of the NRL's  top assistant coaches and guided the Sharks within a whisker of the finals as caretaker coach in 2021.

Hannay is contracted as an assistant at Cronulla through 2026 but Fitzgibbon, himself once a prized assistant coach at the Sydney Roosters, would not stand in his way if he wanted to leave.

"He's a terrific coach," said Fitzgibbon.

"We obviously don't want to lose him but got to respect the fact he's a development coach and if an opportunity comes it'll be a terrific one for him."