Chad Townsend has no plans to leave Cronula before the end of the season despite signing a three-year deal with the Cowboys from 2022 on Wednesday.
The championship-winning half-time rise as he explained that long-term security for his young family was the key to a difficult decision to leave his junior club.
Townsend, 30, has denied that John Morris’s sudden departure as Sarks coach last week affected his call to activate a contract option and stay at the club next year.
“I do not want to go to the Cowboys early. Not at all,” said Townsend.
“I met with Heady – [Cronulla interim coach] Josh Hannay – this morning and said: “Mate, my focus is clearly on the good game this year”. It is in my interest for my career and for our club to win a few games and play finals.
“My decisions and my life are based on what is best for me and my family. And that is it. I understand that people can say that. [Townsend left because Morris is gone], but it is not the truth. “
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Saun Johnson has been named to return from an Achilles injury through Saturday’s exchange clash with the Bulldogs, so Hannah will have three top players in the series competing for two half-time positions with Tanuncent and incumbents Matt Moylan.
“[Hannay] has made some decisions and those decisions are out of my control. “I feel like I’m playing very good football right now,” said Townsend.
North Queensland want to secure 20-year-old Broncos half Tom Dearden to join Townsend, but the veteran has not spoken to the youngster.
“I have only seen what has been documented in the media,” Townsend said.
“He is a good young kid, he has a very good kicking game and he is out of contract like many other halves.”
A product of the Yarrawarrah Tigers, Townsend debuted for Cronulla in 2011 and has played 141 games in black, white and blue – split from one end to the Warriors in 2014-15.
He expected to exercise his choice to remain a shark – and he had until round 13 to do so – but he “could not refuse” the Cowboys’ offer for the sake of his loved ones.
“It makes me a little emotional to think, to be honest,” said Townsend, who believes post-football career opportunities – possibly in the media – will come to Sydney.
“I have three small children at home and it was difficult. That’s why I decided to put them on first. I have loved my time here and I have made many good friends and many good memories.
“It was always my intention to stay. I met the Cowboys a while ago, a few weeks ago, and they gave me a very good offer right away and one that we thought about very deeply.
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“When I think about it, I was part of the most successful era [Cronulla’s] history. To be a member of this team that won the premiere, is still a moment “pinch me”. I used to sit on the hill when I was a kid waving my flag.
“Let me think about it now. There will be a time when I will finish playing and come back here and I will probably sit on this hill again with my new girlfriend watching the game.”
Townsend continued the “hush-hush” negotiations – even emptying a text from the North Queensland star and good companion Valentine Holmes – until he informed his shark teammates of his decision.
And he met face-to-face with shark incoming coach Craig Fitzgibbon, who had previously spoken on the phone, to deliver the news on Tuesday.
“[Fitzgibbon] he told me I was part of his plans for next year and he wanted to guide me. “He had heard wonderful things about me and I really appreciated him,” Townsend said.
“He fully understood that my decision was about the safety of my family, which in my current Sharks contract I have a player selection for next season and then next season was the club’s choice.
“This agreement has allowed me to have complete control over my future and destiny.”
Part of the charm that went to Townsville played under Todd Payten.
“I met him a few weeks ago and I really liked the way he looks like a sniper,” Townsend said.
“I’ve seen some of his press conferences and he’s really direct with what he expects. And when people don’t meet the standards, he informs them. We saw what he talked about with Jason Taumalolo and what he expects from him.
“This is what you want from a coach. You want honesty and someone who does not tell you what you want to know. [but] what you need to know. “
Payten is a predator who has landed Townsend’s signature.
“We have made no secret of our intentions to secure a senior half after losing our leader Michael Morgan in retirement,” Payten said.
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“We were looking for a complex organized halfback that could lead the team around the park and I think we found it in Chad.
“He is a talented football kicker, he faces well and he is a strong voice on the pitch, which were three areas we highlighted when we entered the market for half.”
Cowboys senior supporter Jordan McLean added that Townsend’s experience would be invaluable.
“His game management is very good. I’m not sure what happens to Drinky [Scott Drinkwater], but hopefully it stays both would be good [halves] mating, “McLean said.
Center Murray Taulagi said No.7 would bring “a little structure around the team, only someone who can guide us to the park a little better”.
Cronulla CEO Dino Mezzatesta praised Townsend’s commitment.
“Chad has been a great servant of our club, he has shown great character throughout his career and he has assured me and all the Sharks that he is committed to completing the job and making the 2021 season a success,” he said. Mezzatesta.
“He put the family first with his decision to take advantage of this opportunity, which we fully appreciate and understand, and wish him well in his future as an NRL player and beyond.”