The Sharks have named their team for their opening match of the NRL Auckland Nines. In a game set to be played in slippery and damp conditions following consistent rain in Auckland which fell overnight and has continued for most of the morning, the Sharks play the Gold Coast Titans kicking off at Eden Park at 3.35pm (1.35pm Sydney time).
Coach Shane Flanagan has chosen what is arguably his strongest line-up for game one in a bid to kick start his 9’s campaign on a winning note.
Both Co-Captains in Luke Lewis and Chris Heighington have been named in the side, with Flanagan opting for experience, coupled with youth, with the likes of newcomers Josh Cleeland, Kurt Capewell and Matt McIlwrick included in the squad for what will be an extremely competitive contest against a solid-looking Titans outfit.
The Sharks will head into the opening match with a good level of confidence, however so too will a Titans side which includes Australian and NSW lock Greg Bird, Queensland Origin rep Chris McQueen and former Newcastle Knights half-back Tyrone Roberts.
Coach Flanagan allowed Sharks TV into the inner-sanctum when announcing his line-up for game one of the tournament, with the Sharks team to play the Titans listed below.
SHARKS NRL 9’s Game 1 v Titans Eden Park – 3.35pm (1.35pm Sydney Time)
1. Ben Barba
3. Gerard Beale
4. Ricky Leutele
5. Mitch Brown
6. Jack Bird
7. Chad Townsend
8. Matt Prior
9. Matt McIlwrick
10. Sam Tagataese
11. Luke Lewis (c)
13. Chris Heighington (c)
14. David Fifita
15. Kurt Capewell
17. Josh Cleeland
Not required game one – Jordan Drew, Joseph Paulo, Jayden Brailey, Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga