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‘He’s the enemy’: Sharks recruit Hynes out to ruin their finals dream

“He’s not a small guy and not super quick, but his ball-playing ability and his comfort using the footy in a zone where a lot of people are uncomfortable, he seems to have time in that space and he’s very calm.

“He’ll be just as effective in the halves as he is at fullback.”

Cronulla caretaker coach Josh Hannay, who has been retained as one of Fitzgibbon’s assistants for next year, said of Hynes: “Watching the Melbourne Storm play, you can only be impressed by what he’s done. But at the moment he’s the enemy.

“To my eye his running game is his strength. He creates a lot off the back of his run, he has really good vision and a nice pass. The No.6 generally is seen as that type of player – a running half, not necessarily an organising half – and it plays to his strengths.”

Melbourne can win a sixth minor premiership in 11 seasons with victory over Cronulla, and Slater says there is a lot to like about his old club.

Papenhuyzen continues to build confidence after a lengthy concussion lay-off, and there were even positive signs Slater spotted during last week’s loss to Parramatta.

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“I don’t think he’s at his best, that’s obvious, he still has a bit to go before he’s back to his best, but he will get there,” Slater said.

“There have been some signs the last couple of weeks. He threw a nice pass for Isaac Lumelume within half a second of getting the ball last week, and that was a real instinctive pass. Little things like that are signs to me he’s not far off.

“This young man exploded on to the scene and played to a level way above his experience, and he had a [Clive Churchill] medal around his neck this time last year.

“He’s been through a bit this year, physically and mentally, and it’s a matter of getting back your timing and confidence.

“He was out of the game for 10 weeks, which is basically an off-season.

“I think Craig has shown his hand already with who will play fullback in the finals. Ryan has been named in the No.1 the past few weeks. Both guys will handle it, but I think Ryan will be there.”

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