Josh Dugan against his old club, potentially spending some time in the fullback role as hinted to by Sharks coach Shane Flanagan at his media call today, trying to get the better of his former teammates, and the stage is set for an intriguing local derby clash at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Thursday night.
On the back of a round one loss, against a team riding high after putting the cleaners through the Broncos a week ago, with the Sharks having a challenge on their hands in their first home game of the 2018 season.
The Sharks were below their best in Townsville last week, handing in a performance that could be given a pass mark for effort but was below par for execution.
“It wasn’t the result we were looking for, there is plenty to work on, but we still saw some positives,” Sharks Co-Captain Wade Graham said. “We get a chance to come home, we didn’t play that great at home last year, looking to turn that around. There’s no better way to do that than on Thursday night.”
While the coach made his thoughts known as to the way his team played last week, as Sharks prop Matt Prior explained, the players were equally aware of where it all went wrong.
“We were a bit disappointed with the performance, the errors and penalties,” Prior said. “We competed well all game, but let ourselves down.”
As for the way the Sharks will shape up, Flanagan confirmed the rumours about Dugan and Valentine Holmes both spending some time in the fullback position, with the coach aware of the challenge the Dragons will present.
“They’ll share the role. I think it will work well, it worked well in the trials and is nothing new,” Flanagan said of potentially having two different fullbacks during the course of tomorrow night’s game.
“They’ve got class right across the field,” he said of the Dragons. “They’ve got some quality players and that will be the challenge for us tomorrow.”
In relation to the team the Sharks will put on the field tomorrow night, another club debutant is set to play his first game in Cronulla colours, with Aaron Gray to become Shark number 518.
The ex-Rabbitohs wing/centre takes the place of the injured Sione Katoa, after the youngster suffered a broken jaw in the game against the Cowboys last Friday night. Otherwise the Sharks will field the same team which played in Townsville six nights ago.
Local junior Kurt Dillon and former NSW Origin halfback Trent Hodkinson are listed as 18th and 19th men and while unlikely to play, the final decision on the Sharks line up will be made one hour prior to the 8.05om kick-off.
The NRL match is set to get underway at 8.05pm, with a curtain-raiser between the Newtown Jets and St George Illawarra Dragons in the Intrust Super Premiership the first game on Southern Cross Group Stadium on Thursday. That match kicks off at 5.35pm, with stadium gates opening at 5.30pm.
Tale of the tape
Head-to-head: 40 games, Sharks 19 wins, Dragons 20 wins, 1 draw
Matches at the venue: 18 games, Sharks 11 wins, Dragons 7 wins
Last five games: Dragons 3 wins; Sharks 2 wins
2017 matches: Round 3 – Dragons won 16-10; Round 10 Sharks won 18-14
2017 points per game: Sharks 19.8; Dragons 22.2
2017 points conceded per game: Sharks 17; Dragons 18.8
NRL Team List – Round 2
Sharks v Dragons
Thursday, March 15
Southern Cross Group Stadium
Kick-off – 8.00pm
1- Valentine Holmes
2- Sosaia Feki
3- Josh Dugan
4- Ricky Leutele
5- Aaron Gray
6- Matt Moylan
7- Chad Townsend
8- Andrew Fifita
9- Jayden Brailey
10- Matt Prior
11- Jayson Bukuya
12- Wade Graham
13- Paul Gallen
14- Kurt Capewell
15- James Segeyaro
16- Ava Seumanufagai
17- Joseph Paulo
18- Kurt Dillion
19- Trent Hodkinson