Sharks star Valentine Holmes has been given the all-clear to make his much anticipated return in the local derby clash at Southern Cross Group Stadium tomorrow.
Injured in the Sharks pre-season trial match against the Bronocs, Holmes missed the World Club Challenge game in Wigan and has also been absent from his teams’ first two Telstra Premiership matches so far in 2017.
Named on the wing, Holmes can also be expected to spend some time in the fullback role as the game progresses, however after fellow young gun Jack Bird handled the position capably last Saturday night in Canberra, Holmes’s comeback match could be played out on the flank.
On the other wing is Edrick Lee, with Sosaia Feki dropping out of the Sharks 19-man squad.
In something of a surprise Gerard Beale remains on an extended bench, seemingly having overcome his hamstring issues, with decisions as to the final make up of the 17 to be determined tomorrow.
With both teams on two competition points after one win and one loss following the opening two rounds, the match promises to be a hard fought encounter, as is usually the case with the local derby played between the traditional rivals.
The Dragons were outstanding in registering a convincing round one win against the Panthers, before going down to Eels last weekend. On the flip side the Sharks earned their points the other way around, going down to the Broncos then bouncing back with a 42-16 win over the Raiders in Canberra.
Recent history of matches between the Sharks and Dragons shows the honours have been shared, with one win each in both 2015 and 2016.
The most recent match up went the way of the Dragons at Jubilee Oval last year, while the last game played at Southern Cross Group Stadium saw the Sharks claim a 30-2 victory.
In the head to head record since St George merged with Illawarra, the joint-venture has a 19-18 lead in games played, with one match drawn. At Southern Cross Group Stadium it is 11 wins to the Sharks, six to the Dragons.
The Sharks v Dragons NRL match, which will be played for the Monty Porter Cup, is scheduled to get underway at 6.30pm.
Sharks - 19-man Team List
1. Jack Bird
19. Valentine Holmes
3. Kurt Capewell
4. Ricky Leutele
5. Edrick Lee
6. James Maloney
7. Chad Townsend
8. Andrew Fifita
9. Jayden Brailey
10. Matt Prior
11. Luke Lewis
12. Wade Graham
13. Paul Gallen ©
14. Jayson Bukuya
15. Chris Heighington
16. Jeremy Latimore
17. Joseph Paulo
18. Tony Williams
21. Gerard Beale