Cowboy Chad: 'Why I walked out on Sharks'
Cowboys recruit Chad Townsend has broken his silence on quitting the Sharks, declaring he can provide the premiership-winning leadership that can rebuild North Queensland as a title force.
News Corp can reveal Townsend has formally advised Cronulla teammates this morning of his decision to quit the club at season's end to sign a three-year, $2 million deal with North Queensland until the end of 2024.
With the Sharks battling salary-cap pressures as they attempt to keep off-contract duo Matt Moylan and Shaun Johnson, one playmaker had to leave the Sutherland Shire and that man is Townsend.
The 30-year-old playmaker has amassed 141 games for the Sharks since his NRL debut in 2011 and had hoped to finish his career at the club after helping deliver Cronulla's maiden premiership in 2016.
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Townsend has vowed to remain committed to the Sharks for the rest of the season, but is relishing the prospect of his move to Townsville in November, insisting his experience can haul the Cowboys out of the NRL cellar.
"My best attribute is providing a team with leadership," said Townsend, speaking for the first time about his decision to leave Cronulla to finish his career at the Cowboys.
"I believe I know how to deliver a coach's game plan while ensuring my teammates who need the space or the ball get it at the right time.
"It was an extremely difficult conversation with my teammates (telling them he had signed with the Cowboys) but I wanted to make my decision early so we as a team can focus on the season ahead.
"Joining the Cowboys is an opportunity to secure my family's future as well.
"I feel it's the right time in my career."
Cowboys and Queensland Origin star Valentine Holmes, who won a premiership ring alongside Townsend at the Sharks in 2016, backed his former teammate to step up as the club's senior playmaker following the shock retirement of Michael Morgan.
"It was difficult to lose a player like 'Morgo', so to be able to secure Chad is a great buy for us," Holmes said.
"Chad is exactly what we need.
"He will be the perfect game manager to allow 'Drinky' (five-eighth Scott Drinkwater) and I to attack where we need to."
Newcastle-bound emerging playmaker Jake Clifford has struggled to be a dominant voice at halfback in the past 18 months and the Cowboys believe Townsend will provide some authority at the scrumbase.
Aside from being an outstanding goalkicker, Townsend is also viewed as a senior mentor to assist in the development of the next generation of Cowboys players.
"Chad carefully considered his future," said his manager Chris Orr from Pacific Sports Management. "He wanted to ensure he approached this process professionally and when he made his decision he informed all parties of his decision personally."
Townsend said there is no ill-feeling with Sharks management and has pledged not to let his Cronulla teammates down for the rest of the season.
"I want Sharks fans and members to know that I'm committed to this season," he said. "I'm grateful for their support over the years."
Originally published as Cowboy Chad: Why I walked out on Sharks