Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon says the match review committee has become “difficult to understand” after he lost fullback Will Kennedy to a serious as a result of a hip-drop tackle that went uncharged.
Kennedy isn’t expected back until the final round of the regular season after he was forced to undergo ankle surgery following an ugly tackle by South Sydney’s Tevita Tatola in the 63rd minute of last week’s pulsating golden point battle.
The incident has attracted very little interest during a week where Brisbane’s Patrick Carrigan was banned for four matches for fracturing Jackson Hastings’ fibula in a shocking tackle just hours after the Kennedy injury.
The Sharks sent an email to the NRL asking why Tatola hadn’t been charged, but the response they got left a lot to be desired just a week after Sharks lock Dale Finucane was suspended for two games for an accidental head clash.
“It’s getting difficult to understand,” Fitzgibbon said, confident that Kennedy may return ahead of the schedule.
“No one actually intends to do it. They are unfortunate and they are happening more than normal.
“But we lose a good player who’s an important part of our team for an extended period, and there was no charge.
“I didn’t understand the explanation, but it is what it is. The same goes for Dale with the head clash. We’ve got to move on.
“Kade (Dykes) gets an opportunity, which is really exciting. When things like that happen, you really don’t want to get stuck and dwell on what you can’t control. All I can control is the team that’s going to play this weekend.”
There is a silver lining to all of this, with Dykes set to make his NRL debut on Saturday in front of a packed house on Old Boys’ Day.
It’s a huge moment for the local junior who will become a third-generation Shark and will follow in the footsteps of dad, Adam, and grandfather, John.
Dykes has been in red-hot form in reserve grade, scoring eight tries and setting up another nine in his 13 games this season where he’s split time between fullback and in the halves.
He’s been playing so well that he’s even pipped former sevens star Lachie Miller, who scored a slashing try on debut for Cronulla back in round 11.
“His form for Newtown has gotten to a point where (picking) him was undeniable,” Fitzgibbon said.
“We had a couple of weeks where we were rotating between him and Lachie Miller. Both were really pressing for selection. He’s got really good balance and speed and footwork so hopefully we can see some of his best attributes tomorrow.
“It was a hard decision based on Lachie’s debut.
“If you have a rewards system based on NSW Cup, training, performance etc, then Kade got to a point where it warranted an opportunity.
“I will say Lachie has been performing well and has been pressing for selection as well, so Lachie has some utility value and I do see Lachie playing again for us soon.
“It was difficult in that regard but also really exciting for Kade because he earned the opportunity.”
The hype around Dykes is already building, but his coach is confident the 20-year-old will handle it days after he signed a contract extension to keep him at the club until 2024.
“Young players who are exceptionally talented have a confidence about them so the hype doesn’t affect them too much,” Fitzgibbon said.
“Kade is a confident kid and really confident in his ability, so when you see the way that they mingle with the other players and the way that they train (you’re not worried).
“This is Kade’s first season against has men and he’s been one of the strongest performers in the competition.”