Round one and the trip to Townsville is getting closer, with Sharks coach Shane Flanagan narrowing his focus with the big game just two days away.
Flanagan has selected a team, will have one more training session to put the finishing touches on preparations, with one of his finals tasks to address the media prior to the Cowboys clash on Friday.
In his first weekly press conference of the 2018 season, Flanagan covered off on a range of topics, including the selection of rookie winger Sione Katoa, the injection of newcomers Josh Dugan and Matt Moylan into his backline, the challenge of facing the Cowboys on a night where they will celebrate Johnathan Thurston’s 300th NRL game and the 18th season for Sharks Co-Captain Paul Gallen.
On Katoa, Flanagan expressed his excitement at being able to introduce a potential crowd-pleaser into his team and into the NRL.
“It’s his first opportunity in the NRL but he’s trained really well in the off-season and he deserves his spot,” Flanagan said.
“He’s played well in the trials, coming off the back of an outstanding 20’s season last year.
“It will be really exciting to watch him play his first game and to give him first jersey for what is the start of a long career.”
As for the season-opener against North Queensland, Flanagan is confident he has enough big game experience amongst his playing group to handle what will be an electric atmosphere at 1300 SMILES Stadium, with Moylan one of those players he believes is set to relish the situation.
“What I know is I’ve got a lot of senior players who have played in big games,” he began. “Matty’s played in big games, for his country, he’s played Origin. They’re the type of players I want in this big occasion, round one, JT’s 300th.”
In relation to Gallen, he may have missed the trials but Flanagan is certain his skipper will be ready to go come Friday night.
“He’s one of the toughest and most competitive people I know,” Flanagan said.
The hard work of summer is behind them, the Sharks are ready to go, with Flanagan eagerly anticipating the kick off to the 2018 season.
“I’m excited about round one and excited about the season,” he said.
Watch the full press conference and hear from Flanagan, about the Cowboys clash and all things Sharks, now playing on Sharks TV.