A Sharks side with a slightly different look to weeks past will look to rebound from a last-start loss when they host the Sydney Roosters at Remondis Staium on Sunday.
The Sharks lose Ben Barba from the team beaten by the Dragons but welcome back skipper Paul Gallen for a match where they will aim to record a second win over the highly rated Roosters in 2015.
As coach Shane Flanagan explained in an interview shortly after a press conference to announce Southern Radiology as the club’s new front of jersey partner, the addition of Gallen will provide a huge boost.
“He gives guys like Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes, all the players through the squad, even Michael Ennis and the older boys, that confidence that he’s in the team and it gives me as a coach confidence that he’s in the team,” Flanagan said.
“Do I expect him to be at his best on Sunday, probably not, but Gal’s not so good is still very, very good and I’m looking forward to having him on the field for what is a big game.”
While Gallen’s return strengthens the Sharks team, Barba’s absence at fullback will cause a reshuffle, with Valentine Holmes and Michael Gordon likely to share the role.
Originally named on an extended bench, Sosaia Feki will come into the team on the wing.
After playing with a rib complaint last weekend the Sharks coach and his medical staff felt Barba would be best served by missing the Roosters match.
“He could have possibly played, he did last week and was pretty uncomfortable most of the game, but Sosaia Feki is back so we lose one good player and I get another one back. So I don’t think the team loses too much,” Flanagan said.
As for their opponents, the Roosters could also be set to make a significant change of their own, with the rumours strong that star centre Blake Ferguson could make a surprise return.
Ferguson has been out of action with a lower leg injury and his inclusion would potentially strengthen an already potent Roosters backline.
The match against the Roosters shapes as an important one for a Sharks team looking to keep pace with the top eight and the competition leaders.
The loss to the Dragons halted their momentum somewhat, while on the other side of the ledger the Roosters will arrive at Remondis on a high after registering an impressive win over the Storm on Monday night.
The Roosters come into the match with the Sharks having won three straight.
Giving the Sharks a good deal of belief ahead of tomorrow’s game would be their last two performances against the Roosters team, with a 20-12 victory at Allianz Stadium back in round five coming after their greatest ever come from behind win last year.
Behind 24-0 at one point in the game the Sharks scored a memorable 30-28 win in 2014 fielding a young and inexperienced team.
The overall record for matches played between the two clubs reads 56 wins for the Roosters, as opposed to 30 by the Sharks, with two draws.
In games played at Remondis Stadium the Roosters also have the edge, with 24 wins to 16.
The match tomorrow celebrates the Sharks Members round, with the Sharks showing their appreciation to their loyal 2015 members.
The Sharks v Roosters NRL match is scheduled for a 4.00pm kickoff, with the NYC clash getting underway at 1.45pm. Gates to Remondis Stadium open at 1.30pm.