Flanagan reveals his Sharks No.1 for 2018

Laine Clark and Steve Zemek
AAP

Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has decided to ignore popular opinion and astonishing statistics by picking his fullback for next season.

Flanagan will continue to nurture Valentine Holmes at fullback despite statistics showing the Rugby League World Cup try machine is three times more potent on the wing.

Flanagan appeared to face a tough decision ahead of the 2018 NRL season after Holmes shone on the wing for Australia, scoring a tournament high 12 World Cup tries including 11 in two games.

It extended Holmes' incredible hit rate in the position.

According to Fox Sports Stats, Holmes has scored 36 tries on the wing in 39 games for Cronulla, Queensland and Australia in the past two seasons - just under one per game.

In his 21 games at fullback he has scored just six times - under once every three games.

He has also made almost three times as many linebreaks (37 to 13) on the wing.

Holmes' Cup heroics added to speculation Flanagan may shift the incumbent Sharks No.1 after also recruiting fellow fullbacks Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan.

But Flanagan has shut down the rumours, saying Holmes will continue to be groomed as Cronulla fullback.

"He is a finisher, a dead-set finisher. But he's a good fullback as well," Flanagan told NRL.COM.

Flanagan has plenty of fullback options at his disposal. Pic: Getty

"We've got to give him time at fullback.

"I had a bit to do with Mini (Anthony Minichiello) when I was at the Roosters and he started on the wing and developed into a fullback.

"So we're not rushing Val."

But Flanagan added: "We just have to make sure we're putting out the best team each week.

"Remember Matty Moylan is also a fullback so it's a good problem to have."

Flanagan said Holmes knows "where he stands" in the fullback pecking order after waiting until after the World Cup to speak with the Kangaroos speedster.

"No one deserves a spot, they earn it, but I just wanted to put his mind at rest," he said.

"I wasn't disappointed with the way he played last year; I wasn't looking to replace him or anything like that."

Holmes scored just six NRL tries this season replacing Ben Barba at fullback compared to 19 on the wing in Cronulla's 2016 premiership year.

But Flanagan said: "Everyone gets excited and thinks if I put him on the wing he'll score 19 tries again.

"(But) Val was spoon-fed a lot of those tries for Australia in the World Cup from Billy (Slater) and (Michael) Morgan and Duges (Dugan).

"That was a little like in 2016 when he had Jack Bird inside of him and also Barba feeding him (at Cronulla)."