NRL PREVIEW | Sharks v Sea Eagles
There is no hiding from the fact the Sharks have struggled at Brookvale Oval over the years, with the Cronulla club having won just five times in 38 attempts in matches played on the northern beaches.
Overall the two clubs have met on 86 occasions, with Manly also leading that win-loss statistic having come out on top 61 times to the Sharks 23.
And in more recent times Manly have beaten the Sharks nine times in the last 10 meetings, including two Sea Eagle victories in 2015.
But Coach Shane Flanagan believes this team has the ability to buck the trend, with a sprinkling of youth and experience adding up to a team that can overcome the odds and come home with the points.
“We haven’t had a lot of success over there, although its probably spoken about more in the media than between us, but we haven’t won (at Brookvale) for a while and they are supposed to be a bogey team,” Flanagan said.
“The young blokes here, and even the older boys, they’re not worried about that, they’re just going over there to continue our good start to the season.”
The good start to which Flanagan refers included a close loss to the Cowboys up in Townsville, before the Sharks thumped the Dragons in the local derby at Southern Cross Group Stadium last weekend.
Conversely, the Sea Eagles have been off their game, beaten twice in as many starts meaning they will be desperate for the points on Monday night.
“They’ve probably got a few teething problems going on at the moment, new coach, new five eighth who probably hasn’t settled in and their fullback is out at the moment but I reckon he’ll be back Monday,” Flanagan explained. “I expect Brett Stewart to be there and he’ll make a big difference to them.”
Not named but rumored to be ready to return, Stewart is likely to step in at fullback for Tom Trbojevic, who in turn switches to the wing. In a pointer to that predicted change being a reality, Brayden Wiliame, originally named in jersey 5, ran out today for Manly’s NSW Cup team.
As for the Sharks, the only change to the 17 sees the return of experienced forward Chris Heighington after a one week suspension, with one player to drop off the interchange bench.
Monday at Brookvale will also be a special occasion for Michael Ennis, with the Sharks hooker to celebrate a special milestone.
“It’s Michael Ennis’s 250th game, Jack Bird is 21 on Sunday, it’s a milestone game for Mick and we’d like to go over there and make it a memorable one for him so we’ve got a bit going on off the field as well as on it,” Flanagan said.
Adding even more spice to the Sharks v Manly game the two teams will play for the Steve Rogers Cup, named in honour of the late, great Sharks player and administrator.
Manly currently hold the Rogers Cup after claiming victory the last time the two teams met which was in round 26 last season.
Kick-off on Monday is at 7.00pm, with the NYC match scheduled to begin at 4.45pm.
CLICK HERE to see the Sharks team list.