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France legend Freddie Michalak went from holiday to new NRL coaching gig

By AAP
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Aiming to keep up in the battle for a top-four spot, Cronulla Sharks head coach Craig Fitzgibbon has enlisted the help of a holidaying Frenchman by the name of Frederic Michalak.

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Michalak is not your average backpacker, however, having played 77 Tests across a 14-year international rugby union career.

Michalak had the distinction of being able to play halfback or five-eighth in union and has been brought in over the last month help the Sharks’ kicking game with No.6 Matt Moylan and halves partner Nicho Hynes, two of the main beneficiaries.

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Cronulla have played with flair all year and as they gear up for the pointy end of the NRL season their attack has added a French flavour.

“I had a quick Google and looked him up on YouTube to see his highlights when he first came in,” Moylan told AAP.

“It’s good to have someone of his stature around the club.

“He’s been with us the last few weeks and it’s been enjoyable working with him.

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“He’s mainly working on how we strike the ball and focused on helping us get a better routine (in our kicking action).

“Wade (Graham) speaks a bit of French at home and I’ve tried to pick up a bit … but I’m hopeless.”

Sporting a black eye and six stitches from last weekend’s 20-10 loss to Penrith, Moylan took heart from the fact the Sharks pushed the Panthers all the way as they prepare to face South Sydney this Saturday.

“I think there is some stuff we have got to address,” Moylan said, pointing to the Sharks’ completion rate of 71 per cent.

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“It’s good that we showed that we can go toe to toe with them.

“But I think there are things for us to tidy up and we want to keep improving as a team.”

Moylan has enjoyed a career resurrection under Fitzgibbon, recently earning himself a two-year contract extension.

He has played 18 games this season – the most since his first year at the club in 2018 – and said Fitzgibbon’s advice in November has helped him keep fresh and on the field.

“I’ve done a bit of training with Justin Lang (the son of former Sharks coach John) and it was Fitzy who got me to start going to his gym,” Moylan said.

“He individualises some extra stuff for me to do in my training to help my body.

“It’s good to get away from the club for a change of scenery.

“(When I was younger) I didn’t realise how much hard work was needed to look after my body and things outside of footy; nutrition, sleep and recovery.

“I didn’t put enough importance into it and that’s helped me enjoy things this year.”

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