The Sharks begin their 2016 campaign with perhaps the most difficult road trip of them all, with the new NRL draw revealing a Saturday night clash against the North Queensland Cowboys to open their season.

Round two sees the home-opener against the Dragons, while matches three and four, against the Sea Eagles and Storm, caps off a challenging yet exciting first month for the Sharks next year.

Without having an opportunity to entirely digest the draw and the tasks his Sharks team are set to face, Head Coach Shane Flanagan was pleased after taking an initial glimpse at his teams’ schedule for 2016.

“Looking at it as a whole, we’ve done pretty well, but you can look too far into it,” Flanagan said. “We’ve got a pretty hard start and finish with four tough ones.

“In general, we’ve got a lot of Sunday games, which we wanted, then two Monday nights at home, but both are on public holidays, which for us and for fans in the Shire will be just like Sunday afternoons.

“And the boys love playing on a Sunday afternoon, especially in the middle part of the year.”

The 2016 NRL draw, which was released today following the announcement of a new broadcast rights deal involving Fox Sports, will see 18 games on Thursday nights and one match each Monday evening.

Under the new agreement however Monday night games will cease to exist from 2017, with Thursday’s to remain.

In relation to the Monday games, the Sharks have been dealt five in total, three away from Shark Park and two at home.

As highlighted by Flanagan, the two Monday night games at Shark Park fall on holiday Monday’s, with the Sharks clash with the Storm in round four on Easter Monday, the Cowboys-Cronulla game (round 14) on the Queen’s Birthday June long-weekend.

Other features of the Sharks 2016 draw they play just six teams once – Broncos, Eels, Tigers, Bulldogs, Rabbitohs, Warriors – with an even split of three of those one-off opponents playing at home, three away.

The draw reveals the Sharks have out of town road trips to the Cowboys, Knights, Raiders, Titans and Storm during the 2016 season, a trip north to Townsville in round one and a visit south to Melbourne in round 26 amongst them.

For the complete Sharks draw for 2016, see below. 

ROUND DATE TIME (EST) VERSUS VENUE
1 Saturday, March 5 7:30pm North Queensland Cowboys 1300Smiles Stadium
2 Sunday, March 13 4:00pm St. George Illawarra Dragons Shark Park
3 Monday, March 21 7:00pm Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Brookvale Oval
4 Monday, March 28 7:00pm Melbourne Storm Shark Park
5 Saturday, April 2 5:30pm Wests Tigers C'town Stadium
6 Sunday, April 10 2:00pm Gold Coast Titans Shark Park
7 Sunday, April 17 2:00pm Canberra Raiders GIO Stadium
8 Sunday, April 24 4:00pm Penrith Panthers Shark Park
9 Sunday, May 1 4:00pm Brisbane Broncos Shark Park
10 Sunday, May 15 2:00pm Newcastle Knights Hunter Stadium
11 Saturday, May 21 7:30pm Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Shark Park
12 BYE BYE BYE BYE
13 Monday, June 6 7:00pm Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs ANZ Stadium
14 Monday, June 13 7:00pm North Queensland Cowboys Shark Park
15 BYE BYE BYE BYE
16 Saturday, June 25 5:30pm New Zealand Warriors Shark Park
17 Saturday, July 2 7:30pm Parramatta Eels Shark Park
18 Sunday, July 10 4:00pm Penrith Panthers Pepper Stadium
19 Monday, July 18 7:00pm Sydney Roosters Allianz Stadium
20 Sunday, July 24 2:00pm Newcastle Knights Shark Park
21 TBC TBC Gold Coast Titans CBus Super Stadium
22 TBC TBC Canberra Raiders Shark Park
23 TBC TBC St. George Illawarra Dragons Jubilee Oval
24 TBC TBC South Sydney Rabbitohs ANZ Stadium
25 TBC TBC Sydney Roosters Shark Park
26 TBC TBC Melbourne Storm AAMI Park