If the result in the Test Match is anything to go by, with the Kiwis trouncing the Kangaroos at Suncorp last Sunday, the Sharks are in for a tough match this weekend.
The New Zealanders, led by Warriors Manu Vatuvei, Shaun Johnson and Ben Matulino, proved too good for the Aussies, with Sharks coach Shane Flanagan hoping his opponents tomorrow have come down from the high of their victory last week.
“I just hope the Australian team didn’t play a lot of those players into form because they played well for New Zealand,” Flanagan said. “They’ve got a really good forward pack and if you let them go forward, the backs will capitalise.
“We expect a tough game, it’s a typical Warriors team, big and strong.”
Countering what the Warriors will bring, is a Sharks team welcoming the return of prop Andrew Fifita.
After missing the Sharks previous two matches due to suspension, Fifita was included in the City Origin team for last Sunday’s game in Wagga and impressed with his performance.
He has a chance tomorrow night to impress NSW coach Laurie Daley when he comes face to face with the imposing Warrior pack.
“It was good in Andrew’s case that he got some football last week, he had two weeks off prior, so it was good for him to get some time,” Flanagan said.
“He was hitting good form for us before his suspension and hopefully he bounces back to that. Andrew needs to keep performing to get Laurie’s attention.
“He’s ready for to go for us again this weekend.”
An injury to winger Sosaia Feki has also forced a positional change, with Ben Barba named to play at fullback against the Warriors.
Barba will play in the number one jersey, with Valentine Holmes and Michael Gordon taking over the wing spots.
“He was the Dally M Player of the Year in that position,” was Flanagan’s blunt assessment as to how Barba would handle the positional shift.
In other team changes, Chris Heighington is currently serving three weeks on the sideline as a result of a suspension for a lifting tackle infringement, while Sami Sauiluma will make his NRL debut for the Sharks should he take to the field after being selected on an extended bench.
Should be play tomorrow night Sauiluma will become the 500th Sharks player to represent the club in the top grade.
The Sharks v Warriors match, one which sees both the betting houses and NRL experts split as to a favourite, is scheduled to kick off at 5.30pm.
The NYC match gets underway at 3.15pm, while for those arriving early, Sharkies Leagues Club will show a live stream of the two Junior rep Grand Finals live from the Locker Room Sports Bar.