NRL Preview – Sharks v Titans
As coaches do, Titans chief Neil Henry is playing his cards close to his chest in regards to the injury status of a number of his star players.
Included in his 21-man squad when named on Tuesday were the names Hayne, Proctor and Hurrell, three quality performers and players missing from their Titans squad in recent matches.
Whether they are ready to go and will take the field this weekend might not be known until an hour before kick-off, however as coach Shane Flanagan explained, the Sharks will need to be on alert for whoever runs out in a Titans jersey tomorrow night.
“I’m not reading too much into who is and who isn’t going to play. We need to prepare around what we need to do,” Flanagan said.
And as for the burning question relating to Jarryd Hayne and a possible return?
“I suppose we’ll see tomorrow. If he turns up we’ll have a plan in place,” Flanagan added.
Despite their position on the NRL ladder and with just one win to their name, the Titans have been competitive in almost all their matches this season, never better emphasised than by the last-minute loss to the Broncos last Friday night.
Ahead with just minutes to go, a charged down kick resulted in the winning try for the Brisbane side, making the Gold Coast even more desperate for success on Saturday night.
But this Sharks team seems to be building, consecutive wins without conceding a try, against two heavyweight opponents, has them full of confidence however that being said they are aware of the attacking threat the Titans pose.
“They are a really good attacking team the Titans,” Flanagan said. “I think they are in the top three-four teams in points scored, so that’s where we need to focus again which is on our defence.
“I’m sure we can score a couple of tries but it’s how many we let in.”
For the Sharks, Flanagan has named the same 17 that got the job done so impressively against the Panthers, with Tony Williams and Sam Tagataese added to the squad in providing a few options should the coach be inclined to change things up ahead of tomorrow night’s game.
Luke Lewis was on light duties on Friday due to hamstring tightness, with medical staff to assess him again in the morning before a decision is made as to his status for the game.
With or without Lewis, Flanagan will again look towards the likes of Wade Graham, Paul Gallen and Andrew Fifita to lead the way up front, while young hooker Jayden Brailey and departing centre Jack Bird were also in outstanding form in the win over the Panthers.
Despite their contrasting positions on the current NRL ladder the Sharks certainly won’t be taking the Gold Coast Titans lightly in tomorrow’s round eight clash if recent history means anything.
Traditionally a close contest, the Titans halted the Sharks 15-game winning streak last year when the teams played out an 18-all draw, while just five points separated them in their first meeting in 2016 back in round six.
The previous year it was a one-point Sharks win and a two-point Gold Coast victory in pre-empting what might be a might tighter game than many are predicting.
The Sharks 19-man squad is listed below, with final decisions as to the make-up of the team to be made tomorrow.
Kick off to the NRL clash is at 7.40pm, with an ANZAC commemoration ceremony to take place prior to the start of the match.
NRL Team List – Round 8
Sharks v Titans
Saturday, April 22
Southern Cross Group Stadium
Kick-off – 7.30pm
1- Valentine Holmes
2- Sosaia Feki
3- Jack Bird
4- Ricky Leutele
5- Kurt Capewell
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
19- Sam Tagataese
Tale of the tape
Sharks v Titans
Head to head
Sharks 8 wins
At Southern Cross Group Stadium
Gold Coast 3
Past 8 matches
Sharks 36 def Titans 12, Skilled Park, 2011
Titans 18 def Sharks 4, Skilled Park 2008