NRL MATCH PREVIEW | Sharks v Warriors
Sharks Coach Shane Flanagan will be the first to admit last week wasn’t pretty but now approaching the business end of the season, every win is important.
“I thought it was a semi-final build-up, big crowd but the game was poor. I know Des wasn’t happy with his team and we made a lot of errors as well,” Flanagan said.
“Sometimes that happens and you don’t get the game you want. It’s wasn’t great but we got the two points and we move on.
“This time of year you just need to concentrate week by week and when you get to the semi finals hopefully you’re in good shape,” he added.
The Sharks did indeed bank the two points for their win at Belmore in moving to 24 and leap-frogging both the Bulldogs and this week’s opponents the Warriors to sit sixth on the NRL ladder ahead of another crucial clash with a finals contender.
The Sharks left for Auckland yesterday and will face a Warriors squad desperate to prove they are more than a one-man band after star half-back Shaun Johnson went down with a serious leg injury just last week.
The catalyst for the Warriors last minute win over the Sharks back in round nine, Johnson will be a loss however Flanagan is still wary a dangerous New Zealand outfit.
“He’s a quality player but we’re missing a few as well and the people that come in get an opportunity. I know the Warrior boys will take that opportunity as our boys will,” he said.
“As I said he’s (Johnson) a quality player but someone else will come in there and jump at it.”
As alluded to by Flanagan the Sharks will also be missing some key personnel with Luke Lewis injured and the Fifita twins unavailable, however in looking for a positive rather than a negative the Cronulla side welcomes back Anthony Tupou after the back-rower has spent an extended period on the sidelines with a badly broken jaw.
Flanagan has no doubt Tupou will be up to the task at Mt Smart tomorrow.
“The way he’s trained and his attitude to training, it hasn’t been poor me, he’s just got on with it and I can’t wait for him to run out on Saturday,” Flanagan said.
Also returning to the NRL for the Sharks is forward Tinirau Arona, with Junior Roqica named on a five-man interchange bench. Should Roqica get the call-up to play it would be his first top grade game in 2015.
For the match which kicks off at 5.00pm (3.00Pm Sydney time) the Sharks will be looking to build on a reasonable record at Mt Smart, with the Warriors ahead 9-6 in the win-loss column but the visitors obviously not intimidated by playing in New Zealand.
In the total head-to-head the Sharks lead narrowly with 18 wins as opposed to 16 by their opposition, while the Warriors have won the last two meetings including a 20-16 victory at Remondis back in round nine.
On that particular occasion Johnson scored a remarkable game-winning try in the final moments of the match.
For those Sharks fans not travelling to Auckland, the perfect place to catch all the action of both the NRL and NYC games is the Locker Room in Sharkies Leagues Club.
The NYC kick-off the afternoon at 12.45pm (AEST) followed by the NRL at 3.
NRL Team List – Round 21
Sharks v Warriors
Saturday, August 1
Mt Smart Stadium
Kick-off – 5.00pm (3.00pm Sydney time)
1 Michael Gordon
2 Sosaia Feki
3 Gerard Beale
4 Ricky Leutele
5 Valentine Holmes
6 Jack Bird
7 Jeff Robson
8 Chris Heighington
9 Michael Ennis
10 Sam Tagataese
11 Anthony Tupou
12 Wade Graham
13 Paul Gallen
14 Ben Barba
15 Matt Prior
16 Tinirau Arona
17 Jayson Bukuya
21 Junior Roqica