By Troy Whittaker
Sosaia Feki starred upon his return to first grade last Saturday night against the Parramatta Eels, but the Sharks winger won't be taking his place in the NRL team for granted.
Sidelined since round five then relegated to the Newtown Jets in the Intrust Super Premiership in round eight, the 27-year-old was recalled to the big time after an injury to Josh Dugan caused a backline reshuffle.
Feki made the most of the opportunity, scoring a decisive double and running for 127 metres in his side's heart-stopping 22-20 victory.
The brief stint in reserve grade allowed him to work on his shortcomings, Feki explained, citing a renewed focus on training as the driving force behind his performance.
"Flano [coach Shane Flanagan] told me to work on my preparation and everything and I took that into mind," he said, adding that he was thrilled to be back playing NRL.
"It was pretty good to be back with the boys. It was good to be back on the field."
Having retained his place for Sunday's blockbuster match against the Raiders, Feki's next assignment is a mouthwatering showdown with powerhouse Canberra winger Jordan Rapana. It's a task he's looking forward to, but one he isn't treating lightly.
"It's always a tough challenge against Rapana," said Feki. "He's probably got the most tackle breaks in the comp and we're going to have to stay up on him and try and keep his offloads down."
Feki was also confident there wouldn't be a repeat of the Sharks' second-half lapse against the Eels, where Cronulla leaked three tries in the final seven minutes to almost relinquish an 18-point lead.
"We'll be practicing to kick the ball out and slow the game down [if we're in a similar situation to the Eels game]," he said. "Hopefully moving onto the Raiders we do that and we get the win and don't stress our coach out.
With the Sharks now sitting in 8th position on the NRL ladder, Feki said the team needs to lift in the back end of games if they're to push for the top four.
"We've been a bit poor at (closing out games) so hopefully we show [improvement] against the Raiders."