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Hynes regains Dally M top spot in press for Origin with new halves partner in Trindall’s absence

Jarred Cross -

Sharks half Nicho Hynes has rocketed back on top of the Dally M leaderboard after another strong performance in his side’s 40-nil domination of Canberra to wrap up round eight. 

Hynes strengthened his case for a spot in Michael Maguire's Blues side come Origin game one in Sydney on June 5, with two try assists, crossing over for one himself, eight tackle breaks, one line break, 202 runnings metres, a 40/20 among 456 kicking metres and six from seven conversion attempts. 

The 27-year-old has reset the pace after claiming consecutive six-point games to start the season, and another perfect score at the weekend. 

Last week, Hynes backed himself for an Origin recall declaring “If I'm not ready right now, then I don't think I'll ever be” and that he’s benefitted from a short cameo in NSW’s disappointing loss to the Maroons in Adelaide in last year’s opener. 

"I think (the debut) has set me up for how I'm going now," he told AAP.

"Yeah, I was a bit rattled by it but I've learned a hell of a lot.

"I think it's made me a better player from it."

Cronulla coach and 11-time NSW Origin representative Craig Fitzgibbon has also put his faith in Hynes to produce for his state. 

“There's a nice balance to his game at the moment. He's obviously got the talent and skill there, but I thought he's knuckled down... it's as good as I've seen him defend, at the moment. He wouldn't be out of place,” Fitzgibbon said post-match on Sunday.

Hynes made 25 tackles at 92 per cent efficiency and had two intercepts against the Raiders on Sunday. (Image: AAP)

The Sharks will celebrate their inaugural Mental Fitness Round led by Hynes with non-for-profit Gotcha4Life next weekend. 

The 2022 Dally M medallist has been a strong advocate for mental health in his career, speaking candidly in the public and media. 

"My motivation for Mental Fitness Round is to encourage open conversations, checking in on your mates and becoming mentally fit," Hynes said, via the Sharks website.

"I know firsthand the power of vulnerability and connection.

"As a footballer, I dedicate a lot of time to looking after my body, but exercising the mind is even more crucial for not just my performance but my everyday life."

Speaking post-match on Sunday, Fitzgibbon also confirmed Daniel Atkinson will hold his spot at five-eighth after an “impressive” performance in replacing axed playmaker Braydon Trindall, who was left out of the win against the Raiders after returning positive roadside alcohol test after their win over the Cowboys last week. 

It’s understood Trindall will not return for the Sharks local-derby with the Dragons next week as he undergoes two weeks of alcohol and drug counselling. 

The 24-year-old also returned a positive roadside drug test in last week’s incident, with secondary results not made clear. 

Trindall is due to front court in May, but is free to play and train under current sanction rules allowing clubs to make the call on off-field matters. 

“(Trindall’s) welfare is our priority, [but] we have to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again,” Fitzgibbon said on Saturday, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We’ve worked very hard at being a team our fans and community are proud of. We obviously need to improve the standards. 

“We need to look after each other so situations like this don’t arise again.

“We also need to move on quickly. It’s happened now, we need to adjust and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Cronulla sit first on the ladder over the Storm on percentage after six wins from their opening seven games.

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