The Sharks will field a near full-strength squad for their final pre-season trial hit out against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium tomorrow.
Skipper Paul Gallen returns to the side, as do the five players missing from the Manly match due to All Stars duties, with centre Gerard Beale returning to the team after sitting out last weeks’ trial due to a quad strain.
Jack Bird has been given another shot by Coach Shane Flanagan to show his skills in the number one jersey, with Ben Barba chosen on the interchange bench and Valentine Holmes on the wing.
The trial is also set to provide the new halves pairing of James Maloney and Chad Townsend another opportunity to work on their combination ahead of round one and their trip to Townsville.
In an interview with Sharks TV ahead of the Tigers trial, Flanagan spoke of his eagerness for his team to iron out a few more of the off-season kinks before their first up assignment against the Cowboys.
“I’m looking for a really good hit out and looking forward to them getting their combinations going,” Flanagan said.
“They’re coming along nicely, they can smell the first round now and I’m expecting a good performance tomorrow.”
As for Gallen, Flanagan explained the captain will play limited minutes, while the battle for the fullback spot will heat up with Barba to get around half a game in that role tomorrow night.
“Gal will play for 20-30 minutes and that should have him ready for round one and as for the fullbacks, Bird will get 40 minutes there, then Ben Barba will get 40 minutes as well.”
After a 24-all draw against Manly in a trial where both sides were missing a number of key personnel, the Sharks will be keen to up the ante in their final pre-season game and with the Tigers also naming what is close to their best 13, the match is sure to provide plenty of entertainment and a guide to the chances of both teams in the early round of the Telstra Premiership.
The Sharks v Tigers NRL Trial is the final game of five matches to be played at Campbelltown tomorrow (Saturday), with two Junior rep fixtures to be followed by NYC, NSW Cup trial and then the main game.
The day begins at 11.30am with the Sharks v Wests Magpies in a round two Matthews Cup match, with the NRL trial kicking off at 7.00pm.
For those fans unable to get out to Campbelltown Stadium, the Wests Tigers will be showing the NRL trial via a Live Stream on their club website.
The Sharks will show the Tigers Live Stream on the big screen in the Locker Room at Sharks Leagues Club.