No stranger to the tough work done by forwards in the middle of the park, ex-Shark and current Titans forward Greg Bird knows the challenge his side faces in meeting the Cronulla pack on the Gold Coast this Monday night.
Lauding the form of the Sharks as a whole – though with a focus on the work of the team’s big men – Bird said it’s been the Cronulla pack that has paved the way for the side’s run of fifteen consecutive wins.
“All games are won and lost in the middle, it’s a bit of a cliché, but one that sits true,” Bird told Titans TV on Thursday.
Providing the foundations in those wins, prop forward Andrew Fifita has again shown this season why he’s rated as one of the game’s best front rowers.
Though far more than just a ‘bash and barge’ figure in the middle of the park, Fifita’s ability to churn out big minutes – and big metres – has been a big factor in the side’s successes this season.
“They play quite an aggressive, physical style of football … They’ve got good (forwards) … Fifita, Wade Graham, (Luke) Lewis, ‘Gal’,” Bird said.
“(Fifita) is a big, skilful, aggressive guy in the middle … the key is shutting those guys down in the middle. They’ve really been dominating teams there.”
Averaging in excess of 160 metres across 16 games this year, Fifita will bring with him to the Gold Coast energy and enthusiasm to match the flair and potential he possesses.
Fifita’s dominance has come in more ways than one, though the 27-year-old’s ability to bust a tackle has been a feature of his game this season.
Second only to the electric Ben Barba (66 busts), Fifita has broken a tackle 64 times this season, while leading the Club in offloads with 39.
“They’re winning the comp, and playing the best football I’ve seen from them in 15 years or so,” Bird added.
“We’re going to have to be at our best to compete with them.”