The Origin series result now done and dusted – though one game still to play – all eyes return to the action in ‘club land’, as the Sharks ready for what will no doubt be a bruising clash with the Warriors tonight.
Fronting the media early on Friday afternoon, Sharks Coach Shane Flanagan confirmed that his four Blues representatives (Gallen, Maloney, Fifita & Bird) returned to training that morning, as the side rounded out their preparations for the in-form Kiwi outfit.
“They trained well,” Flanagan said.
“Obviously they were a little slow at the start, but as their bodies got back into the rhythm of things, they looked right back in place.
“The boys finished off with some physio and a massage, but they’ll all be right (for the Warriors match).”
Flanagan’s men return to their post after a Bye in Round 15, while the Warriors are out to build on a last-start win over the Roosters in Auckland.
Wary of the threat the Warriors pose from ‘1’ through ‘17’, Flanagan insisted complacency be no problem for the Sharks.
Such is the competitive edge that sits within each member of the squad, the Sharks once more head in to the match as firm favourites – intent on equalling a long-standing Club record of 11-consecutive wins.
“But we don’t think about that (winning streak),” Flanagan said.
“Obviously we think about winning, but perhaps in the past we’ve been guilty of getting too far ahead of ourselves.
“Thinking ‘if we win these two games leading into the Bye’ … This year we’ve just been taking it as a week by week proposition and it’s been working for us. This week has been no different.”
In team news, Wade Graham will take his place in the Sharks starting side, having served a one-match suspension for a high shot by missing Wednesday night's Origin Game II.
"Being around those (Origin) boys in the Blues camp will have done Wade well, even though he didn't play on Wednesday," Flanagan told the press on Friday.
Recent history bodes well for the Sharks in this fixture, and the side will be confident of notching another win over their Trans-Tasman rivals tonight.
Flanagan-coached Sharks sides have won 5 of their last 6 matches against the Warriors, including a win the last time the sides met, in Round 21 of the 2015 season.
Of all matches played between the sides at Southern Cross Group Stadium, the Sharks have won 11 of the 16 past encounters, by an average margin of 8 points.
And yet to lose at home this season, the Sharks will also take confidence in fronting a Warriors side that has struggled to win away from Mt Smart Stadium in 2016. (3 wins, 4 Losses)
The Punters’ Picks: Brought to you by CrownBet
(Prices Quoted Friday, 24 June 2016, 10:30PM AEST)
Head to Head: Cronulla Sharks ($1.30) v New Zealand Warriors ($3.40)
Line: Cronulla Sharks -9.5 ($1.88) v New Zealand Warriors +9.5 ($1.96)
FTS: Valentine Holmes ($8), David Fusitua ($11), James Maloney ($19), Blake Ayshford ($23)