The Cronulla Sharks will be looking to claim their fifth victory of the 2016 as they travel to Canberra to take on the Raiders.
After a tight 25-20 victory over the Gold Coast Titans in their last start, the Sharks will be looking for a more polished performance in the Nation’s Capital.
The Titans pushed the Sharks to the final seconds in Round 6, with the Sharks left to play with 15 men after both James Maloney and Luke Lewis were omitted from the game through concussion.
Lewis will sit out this weekend’s clash (1 week) with the Raiders after taking the early plea for a shoulder charge on Luke Douglas in the victory over the Titans.
Maloney on the other hand has this week passed the necessary concussion protocols and will make the trip the Canberra with his side.
In what is a major blow to the Canberra side, 2015 Dally M five-eighth of the Year Blake Austin being ruled out with a hamstring injury.
The Raiders’ halves pairing in Blake Austin and Aiden Sezar have been instrumental in their early season victories and the lose of Austin will force a reshuffle to the Raiders attacking options.
The Sharks will look to capitalise on this as fullback Ben Barba hitting his straps in recent weeks along with Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes forming a impressive pair on the Sharks’ right edge.
In the forward pack, prop forward Andrew Fifita has played himself back in NSW State of Origin contention, running over 300 metres from the last two weeks matches. Flanagan said that his prop forward was getting better and improving with each match.
“He’s getting better.
“He’s been working really hard off the field on all the things that he needs to do. He’s running really straight and getting up some metres and playing some big minutes for us and defensively he’s been sound."
Jayson Bukuya will return to the squad after missing last week due to a finger injury and will be looking to regain the hard-running form he was in before succumbing to injury after the match against the Tigers.
Paul Gallen made a successful return to the Sharks run-on side against the Titans and will again start the match at lock forward.
On top of the loss of Austin, Raider’s coach Ricky Stuart will be hoping that current Dally M Medal leader Josh Hodgson and Paul Vaughan will pass fitness tests ahead of Sunday’s clash after being in doubt during the week.
The Sharks will have fond memories of travelling to Canberra after a golden-point field goal from Valentine Holmes secured the Sharks a 21-20 victory in Round 19.
Delving deeper into the record books, the Sharks have a proven record in the Nation’s Capital victorious on three of the last four occasions.
Kick off for the NRL clash is scheduled for 2:00pm and can be view on Fox Sports 1.
NYC is set to kick off at 9:45am, with Mounties and Manly doing battle in the Intrust Super Premiership between Sharks matches.
Join us this Sunday in the Summertime Bar and enjoy all the action from the clash against the Canberra Raiders on the biggest screen in the Shire.