Matt Moylan - the newest addition of the 2018 Rugby League transfer circus – will start with the Cronulla Sharks next week training at five-eighth.
With the uncertain future of James Maloney, and as the speculation surrounding Mitchell Pearce continues to get louder, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan admits the Moylan’s position could change depending on how their roster looks come March 10 next year.
He will, for now, train in the halves with other contenders in key positions – Maloney, Valentine Holmes and new recruit Josh Dugan – all away on World Cup duties.
“He’ll slot in at five-eighth at the moment,” Flanagan declares.
“He’s not too fussed [on] where he plays, so that was a bonus for me. He can play five-eighth, he can play fullback, he can play halfback, and he can even play in the centres.
“Matt didn’t have the best of seasons last year, but he played for his country and he’s played Origin, so it’s a big signing at any club to get a player of his calibre come to us; we’re super excited.
“He starts with us on the field next week and to have him before Christmas is a big bonus with a lot of the top quality World Cup players away.”
While it seems certain that Maloney is off to Penrith, Flanagan refused to buy into any speculation, declaring that Moylan was not part of a player swap deal.
He admitted he wasn’t sure where he would end up next year, however he will treat him as a Shark while he is still on their books or before there is any official confirmation otherwise.
Given Maloney’s age, Flanagan also mentioned that if Maloney was able to secure a long-term contract at another club, he would certainly not stand in his way.
“If James is here, Matt could play fullback,” Flanagan said.
“James is at a point of his career where he’s 32 years of age and he’d like to get another three years without having to get to the UK.
“If a club is in a position to offer ‘Jimmy’ two or three years, I’ve always said [that] if I’ve got a similar replacement, I’ll send you on your way and wish you well.
“Jimmy – and I’m not speculating that he’s signed with another club – has been a fantastic player for us over the past two years, brought so much to our club, [he’s] a premiership winning player, [he made the] team of the half century.
“We’ve got to respect that and thank him for what he’s done for our club and wish him well in the future.”
The Sharks still have salary cap space, which means their recruitment drive for 2018 is not over.
Mitchell Pearce is currently on holidays with his future uncertain and plenty of clubs circling, despite the fact he’s not off contract at the Roosters.
Flanagan would welcome the NSW incumbent halfback with open arms to the shire.
“I’m not quite sure if Mitchell is even leaving the Roosters, if he decides to leave the Roosters, we’ll think about it and see if we can fit him in,” Flanagan says.
“He’s got some great mates at the club; he’s played with Gal, he’s played with Wade, they’re more concerned about how he is as a person rather than where he’ll pop up next year.
“Some days you hear that he’s going to move, some days you hear that he’s going to stay, so we’ll just sit back, I presume that will get done in the next week or two.
“He’ll get a footy club, there’s no doubt about it.”