Ticket sales and weather forecasts point to a big crowd and plenty of excitement at Remondis Stadium on Saturday, with the Sharks intent on putting their Melbourne Storm hiccup of Monday night well and truly behind them.
After five wins in succession the Sharks stumbled against a committed Storm outfit, however with the short 5-day turn around they have the chance to get straight back to business when they host the Wests Tigers.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan wasn’t quite sure it was the loss his team ‘’had to have” but he was intent on his team turning themselves around and doing it quickly with a win against the Tigers.
“I’ll tell you on Saturday night if we needed a loss,” Flanagan said. “If we come out and play well and get back to what we were doing prior to the Storm game, it might be a good thing.
“Sometimes winning glosses over a lot of things you’re not doing properly. We have to get back Saturday night, at home and in front of a big crowd, get back on the horse and play well.”
The Sharks are set to be without Ben Barba for the Tigers clash after he injured an ankle in the Melbourne loss, however Flanagan believes the utility’s injury isn’t as serious as first feared.
“Benny’s good, probably not as bad as first thought. He’s out of the boot now, only a week in the boot and everything going well he should be back for the last round against Manly,” Flanagan added.
While the Sharks lose a ‘little man’ they welcome the return of a big one, with Sam Tagataese to provide plenty of thrust in the middle of the paddock with his return from suspension.
Tagataese missed the Storm game after accepting a one-week suspension for dangerous contact on Johnathan Thurston the previous week.
Joining Tagataese in the Sharks front row will be Matt Prior, running out for what will be a special occasion for the no-nonsense prop, who in his second season at the Sharks Prior is set to play his 150th NRL game and 30th for the Sharks.
With the return of Tagataese and with Chris Heighington doing a job for Flanagan in the front row, Prior will begin his milestone match from the interchange bench.
Should they hope to claim the all-important two competition points the Sharks will need to be on their game against a Tigers squad boasting plenty of attacking options.
Despite being out of finals contention, Flanagan is aware that the Tigers will present a formidable challenge but the focus of his team is more about their own performance.
“We’re concentrating on us, what we can control and on week to week,” he said. “We’ve got a lot to play for, they’re a proud club and they won’t give us the two points, we’ve got to earn them.”
Like the Sharks the Tigers go into the match in the back of a last round loss. While the Sharks were soundly beaten by the Storm, the Tigers were beaten by the Newcastle Knights in a performance which would have disappointed the fans as well as coach Jason Taylor.
The Tigers will however arrive at Remondis Stadium with a genuine belief they can spring an upset, with their record at the home of the Sharks a good one.
In 12 matches between the Sharks and the joint venture outfit the Tigers have won eight times, the home side just three, with one draw.
In all games between the two clubs the Tigers have 17 wins as opposed to seven by the Sharks, while in 2014 the Tigers were successful in both games played, a 26-10 win at Leichhardt and a 22-20 triumph at Remondis.
The Sharks v Tigers match is scheduled for a 3.00pm kick off as the last of three games to be played at Remondis Stadium tomorrow.
The NYC Sharks v Tigers match get proceedings underway at 10.40am, followed by the NSW Cup and 12.40pm where the Newtown Jets tackle the Newcastle Knights.
Gates to Remondis Stadium open at 10.30am.
NRL Team List – Round 24
Sharks v Tigers
Saturday, August 22
Kick-off – 3:00pm
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 Luke Lewis
12 Wade Graham
13 Paul Gallen (c)
14 Matt Prior
15 Anthony Tupou
16 Tinirau Arona
17 Jayson Bukuya