Why Hynes’ injury could be a blessing in disguise for star half

Why Hynes' injury could be a blessing in disguise for star half



Cronulla Sharks fans were holding their collective breath on Monday afternoon, when footage emerged of their star halfback Nicho Hynes wearing a moonboot after being carried off from a training session.

The prognosis is not good and in fact it only got worse as the week has progressed with the 2022 Dally M winner to miss 6-8 weeks after suffering a broken leg and a complete syndesmosis rupture.

The injury is terrible and I am devastated for him given the extensive rehabilitation he will need to go through. It’s also hard to watch young players hampered by long-term injuries (just ask Ryan Papenhuyzen).

But perhaps from a timing perspective, this news isn’t all doom and gloom. This injury will force Hynes to take a break and the Sharks to work out a way forward without him, especially if they want to play finals footy in 2024.

It feels like over the last month Hynes has been in free fall and it’s been really hard to watch. It’s not just Hynes who is in freefall, but the Sharks too.

There was OriginI when despite having his hands on the ball more than almost any other player, Hynes struggled to make an impact (among several NSW teammates, but perhaps as the halfback he shoulders a little more responsibility).

A couple of weeks later he missed a penalty goal after the siren in Cronulla’s 30-28 loss to the Dolphins to send the game to golden point.

Hynes was then dropped from the Blues squad and replaced by Mitchell Moses.

Then against the Canterbury Bulldogs in golden point, Hynes missed a field goal from 15 metres out to win the game. The Bulldogs responded immediately by pushing up the field and then giving the ball to Matt Burton who kicked the match winner.

In the loss to the Titans last weekend, there were some good moments (like the great cut-out pass which led to a Sharks try) and then some baffling moments, like his final play of the game.

It’s been a tough month for Hynes and he may just need a moment to collect himself.

With Hynes injured, the Sharks need to find another way. They cannot simply give the ball to Hynes and wait for magic to happen.

When Hynes is on the field he is the dominant playmaker and he touches the ball a lot for a halfback. The Sharks look to him to play this role, which is great when it’s working. But when it’s not, it feels like the errors continue to compound and that there isn’t a way for Hynes to take a step back and focus on fundamentals.

Nicho Hynes of the Blues reacts after a Maroons try

Nicho Hynes. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Part of it comes with the territory. Hynes is one of the highest-paid players in the game and it’s because his team trust him to handle and ice those big moments.

But Hynes, just like so many other young players is almost set up to fail by a media that is desperate to label up and coming players as ‘the next big thing’. And as the rugby league public, we eat it up; what we click determines what is printed by the media.

We’ve seen this situation play out time and time before in the past. Joseph Suaalii was hyped before he even played his first game. Then after he made the decision to return to rugby, parts of the rugby league media turned on him.

Kalyn Ponga was rugby league’s next wunderkind. Again, another player built up to be the next big thing and then when he struggled with injury, concussion and form, the narrative changed once again.

Are we causing harm to these players by the constant and incessant media focus on them?

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Hynes, is a very gifted player and by all accounts a wonderful human being off the field. Just this week, reports emerged that Hynes had talked down a person down from jumping off the Sea Cliff Bridge.

We should be supporting players like Hynes and not building them up ahead of what then becomes an inevitable fall.

As for the Sharks, they still sit in fourth place on the ladder, but are only four points clear of the gluttony of teams that sit from eighth to tenth spot.

During the run home, the Sharks will play the Cowboys, Rabbitohs, Dragons and Knights and Sea Eagles – all teams that fall into that top-eight quagmire.

To make the finals that adjustment to playing without Hynes needs to happen, and quickly.

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