NRL match preview – 19-man squad
Fifty years ago, almost to the day, the Sharks stepped out onto the playing field as a part of the premier NSWRL competition of the day.
It was a momentous occasion for the Sharks, who even managed an against-the-odds 11-5 victory over Eastern Suburbs, with few at the time thinking about where the club might be in 50 years time.
Turns out the Sharks are the reigning premiers, tomorrow set to take on a Newcastle side which claimed the 2016 wooden spoon, however by no means can the result of any game in the NRL be considered a forgone conclusion.
Despite taking place on a day that also includes a 50th anniversary player’s reunion, celebrates that first Sharks match half a century ago, as well as Chris Heighington’s 300th NRL game, it’s a victory over the Knights that Shane Flanagan covets the most.
When the word complacency was mentioned at his weekly press conference, Flanagan bristled somewhat, insistent that wouldn’t be the case for his team tomorrow afternoon.
“There’s no complacency, two competition points are so valuable. We need to prepare and prepare well and we’ve done that. There’s been no complacency,” Flanagan said.
“Bar last week they’ve (Newcastle) been competing every week and they’re going to come down here and compete really hard again this week.”
Back in familiar surrounds following a victory at ANZ Stadium against the Eels at their last start, the Sharks will also be intent on registering a victory at Southern Cross Group Stadium after suffering defeats at their first two home matches in 2017.
“We need to go out there and play well, especially at home. We’ve lost two games at home this year, that’s not us. We need to concentrate on what we need to do and to get back on track at home,” Flanagan said.
The Sharks go into the contest with a two win, two loss record after four rounds, while the Knights arrive in the Shire on the back of a 40-0 loss to the Panthers but encouraged by strong performances in their opening three matches.
Also of interest tomorrow is the make-up of the Knights side, with former Shark Anthony Tupou named on an extended interchange bench. Should he get the call up to play it would be his first for the Knights in the top grade this season.
As for the Sharks, Joseph Paulo and Kurt Capewell have been retained and are currently a part of their 19-man squad, included on an extended bench.
The Sharks have no injury concerns with Flanagan needing to make some decision before settling on his final 17, with that team list due an hour before kick-off tomorrow.
The Sharks team to play the Knights is as follows;
NRL Team List – Round 5
Sharks v Knights
Saturday, April 1
Southern Cross Group Stadium
1- Valentine Holmes
2- Sosaia Feki
3- Jack Bird
4- Ricky Leutele
5- Gerard Beale
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- James Segeyaro
18- Joseph Paulo
19- Kurt Capewell
Tale of the Tape - Sharks v Knights
48 Games Played
Knights wins – 27
Sharks wins – 20
1 match drawn
At Southern Cross Group Stadium
Sharks 13 wins
Knights 11 wins
Biggest head to head wins
Sharks d Newcastle 62-0 – Hunter Stadium, 2016
Newcastle 52 d Sharks 8 – Energy Australia Stadium
Past eight clashes
Sharks 5 wins
Knights 3 wins
Sharks d Newcastle 36-4 at Southern Cross Group Stadium
Sharks 62 d Newcastle 0 at Hunter Stadium