Sharks confident of a bold showing
If there was trouble circling the Sharks camp this week that would have been difficult to gauge from the energy at training and around camp throughout the week as the NRL squad got down to business ahead of the match against the Roosters tomorrow night.
James Shepherd stepped into the head coaching role, assisted by an injured John Morris, as the Sharks trained with enthusiasm in an opposed scrimmage with the NYC squad on Wednesday night and then at the captain’s run on Friday morning.
It was an upbeat ending to a week which began poorly with the departure of coach Peter Sharp and playmaker Todd Carney, but ended with the positive announcement of LabourHealth coming on board as the major sponsor for the rest of the 2014 season.
Without Origin stars Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis this week, the Sharks have been forced to call upon the likes of Pat Politoni and Tim Robinson, both members of the successful 2013 NSW Cup premiership winning team, while youngster Sione Masima is also in line for his NRL debut after being named on an extended bench.
While Politoni seems assured of a start as a backup to hooker Michael Lichaa, Shepherd will make the final call as to the final make-up of his bench as late as tomorrow morning.
It is expected the final bench spot will come down to a race between Robinson, Masima and Fijian backrower Junior Roqica.
Politoni and Robinson both have previous NRL experience, Poltoni with the Tigers and Robinson at the Sea Eagles, but if they take to the field on Saturday night it will mark their first top grade appearances for the Sharks.
In the halves the versatile Fa’amanu Brown, after coming on as an interchange hooker last weekend in the win over Brisbane, reverts to the five eighth position for what will be his fourth game in the NRL.
As for the Sharks opponents, the Roosters have some injury and representative duty issues of their own, with Bill Tupou and Boyd Cornder away with the NSW team, Aiden Guerra in camp with the Queensland squad, while Michael Jennings is sidelined due to injury.
The Roosters, the defending NRL premiers, still field a formidable line up featuring the likes of James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce and Sonny Bill Williams.
The last time the two teams met the match, which was at Remondis Stadium back in round seven, resulted in a 24-18 victory to the Rooster in what was a hard fought and spirited contest.
The NRL clash is scheduled for a 7.30pm kickoff at Allianz Stadium tomorrow (Saturday) night, with the NYC Sharks to play the Roosters in the curtain raiser getting underway at 5.15pm.
The NSW Cup Sharks are down the road at Henson Park tomorrow where they take on the Jets, that match starting at 3.00pm.