NRL MATCH PREVIEW | Sharks v Cowboys
Despite proving too strong for the Cowboys on two occasions already this season, the Sharks will head into tomorrow’s do-or-die Semi Final fixture under no illusions of how tough the task at hand will be.
“They’ve got some quality players, number one being their halfback... but I think we’re a pretty ruthless team. We’ll try and drag them down, and get aggressive,” Flanagan said
“We’ve got to make sure we turn up with that attitude tomorrow ... it’s Semi Final football. There’s going to be some things that are going to get thrown up.
“We’re going to have to react to them, to handle them. They’re different situations, which we did (handle them) last week. But it’s a new game this week.”
It’s been a frantic finish to the week for Flanagan and his men, with the Sharks side going through their final preparations this morning, before quickly boarding the team’s bus to the Sydney Airport.
The Cronulla side trained strongly in their final hit out, with experienced players Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis and Michael Ennis all vocal at the session.
The side’s direction in both attack and defence was heard clear and proper around the Remondis Stadium, and the ‘older heads’ will no doubt be looking to make their voices heard once more tomorrow night.
While the more experienced players went about encouraging and preparing the new brigade for their venture to a hostile 1300Smiles stadium, it was the fresh faces seen at training that instilled a lot of confidence across the playing group.
In a boost to the Sharks hopes of returning to Sydney with their NRL premiership hopes intact, winger Valentine Holmes has been declared fit to take his place in the side.
“It (the injury) was in a pretty nasty spot – but he’ll be fine. He’s going back to his home town and I can guarantee that he’ll be running out,” Flanagan said.
“Val’s shown no signs of any problems there, he sprinted well today. He’s on the plane, and we definitely need him to finish off some tries for us.”
Flanagan also confirmed – that despite dealing with back spasms in last week’s warm-up – Andrew Fifita to be a ‘definite inclusion’ against the North Queensland side.
While the Cowboys will go about looking to limit the impact of the speed of Holmes and the force of Fifita, the Sharks will have to contend and contain the likes of Jonathon Thurston, Matt Scott and James Tamou – men that will be buoyed by the backing of the parochial home crowd.
On track for his fourth Dally M Medal, Flanagan said the Sharks would be man-marking Thurston with intent; with the half having missed the Round 16 clash with the Sharks in Townsville through injury.
“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching him (Thurston) when he was a young kid. He’s a quality player,” Flanagan said.
“The thing that impresses me most about JT is just effort on effort on ever. He just never stops... he’s everywhere, we just need to be on our game, but add a little bit more extra detail on him.”
For those fans not travelling to Townsville, the next best place to watch all the action is live and loud from Sharks Leagues Club.