Currently in fifth position on the NRL ladder, the Sharks have qualified for the upcoming finals series ahead of their round 26 match with the Newcastle Knights.
A top four finish hinges on the Parramatta Eels and their match against the Rabbitohs on Friday night, the Sharks needing a Souths win and a victory of their own on Sunday to give themselves a double shot.
But should the Eels triumph, and with their game two days before the Sharks take to the field we will know the outcome well in advance, what incentive is there for Shane Flanagan to trot out his best 17 for the match in Newcastle?
Flanagan may choose to rest players with any niggling injuries, blood youngsters ahead of the upcoming finals, or stick solid with his best 17 in an attempt to fine tune his combinations and go into week one with some winning form.
More will be revealed when the Sharks team is announced at 4.00pm today.
The Knights game still needs to be played, with the young Newcastle side set to present a formidable challenge despite their position on the NRL ladder perhaps indicating otherwise.
The Sharks preparations will also focus on the Knights, with the coaching staff and players realising winning form and momentum is an important component at this time of the season.
But that being said what are the scenarios, where might they finish and who, when and where might the Sharks play in week one of the finals.
It can get somewhat complicated, however below is what we have come up in relation to finishing positions and all the possibilities for the finals.
1. Eels win over Souths – Sharks can finish no better than 5th
2. Souths win over the Eels – Sharks can finish 4th with a win over the Knights
3. Sharks win over Knights – Sharks can finish no worse than 5th
4. Knights win over the Sharks – Sharks can finish 5th, 6th or 7th depending on other results
- 5th - if Manly beat Panthers (and with Manly not bettering Sharks for-and-against)
- 5th - as above and Broncos beat Cowboys
- 5th - as above and the Cowboys beat the Broncos without bettering Sharks f-a-a
- 6th - if Panthers beat Manly and Cowboys beat Broncos without bettering Sharks f-a-a
- 6th - if Manly beat Panthers and better Sharks f-a-a and Cowboys beat Broncos without bettering Sharks f-a-a
- 6th - if Cowboys beat Broncos bettering Sharks f-a-a and Manly beat Panthers without bettering Sharks f-a-a
- 7th - if Panthers beat Manly, or Manly beat Panthers and better Sharks f-a-a, and Cowboys beat Broncos and better Sharks f-a-a
· The Sharks go into the final round with a plus-61 for and against
· The Panthers go into the final round plus-61
· The Cowboys are plus-34
· Manly are plus-24