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Sharks utility Talakai proving invaluable

Cronulla’s power-packed utility Siosifa Talakai is enjoying a break from the grind of the forward pack with a sojourn in the Sharks centres.

He proved more than a handful in the backs during the 18-0 NRL home win over Newcastle on Friday night.

“You can play me anywhere,” Talakai said.

“I’m happy to do whatever job they want for the team.

“It’s the type of club we are, none of us mind the nitty gritty stuff really.”

At the moment the Sharks want him to keep on keeping on, no matter what the position.

After three games in the back row, Talakai was selected at left centre to replace the injured Connor Tracey (groin).

Playing in the second row last week, Talakai scored a try against St George Illawarra and made it two in as many games by crossing for a four-pointer in the second half against the Knights.

The last time he played centre regularly was in his two-season spell at South Sydney, five years ago.

“It brought back a few memories from my junior days and from my time at the Rabbitohs … it’s been a while but it’s definitely fun,” Talakai said.

“Although my defensive decisions have a much bigger impact on the team, you can’t make a wrong one out in the centre and Gags skinned me a few times in the first half,” Talakai said.

“I had to be on my game.”

Queensland Origin centre Dane Gagai did get around his man once or twice but Talakai had the last laugh, scoring the Sharks’ third try against the Knights and then fending off his opponent to help put Will Kennedy away for the fourth.

“I thought it was crucial for him to hold up his position against Dane Gagai, who is a quality player,” coach Craig Fitzgibbon said.

“Dane got him a couple of times, he got him back. They had a ding-dong for a while.

“But Sifa is no fuss, just goes about his work and he had a powerful performance.

“He’ll keep working at his game and we’ll see where he lands whether it’s back row, centre or middle.”

Teammate Dale Finucane doesn’t particularly like running at Talakai at training.

“He’s a powerful man. I think his versatility is his strength with that ability to play in the middle, back row and centres.

“He was a nightmare for their (Knights) right edge.”

The Sharks are proving a handful for opponents too, after three straight wins.

“I don’t think we’ve started like this in the three years I’ve been at the club,” Talakai said.

“It’s a different feel, different vibe, and it’s infectious.

“We’re all feeding of each other and building off each other.”

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