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Sharks v Knights - Match Preview

The Sharks are shooting for six straight wins and can perhaps break into the top four when they take on the Knights in Newcastle this Sunday.

Cronulla enters the fixture following a tenacious victory over the Bulldogs and will be boosted by the additions of some key personnel.

Star back-rowers Luke Lewis and Wade Graham are set to return from injury lay-offs as the Sharks field a full-strength side for the first time in almost two months.

Lewis, who has been out of action with a calf complaint since round 8, said he was "super excited" to be playing.

"I'm just looking forward to getting up there Sunday afternoon, (it's a) good day to play some footy," he said.

"It's been a good fun week at training and just being back out on the park, throwing the ball around with the boys has been outstanding. (I'm) really enjoying it at the moment."

Though Newcastle has lost its past three matches, Lewis said the Sharks are expecting a strong challenge for the two competition points – citing electric Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga as the danger man.

"We've been doing a lot of video on him. (He's got) very good footwork, he loves to attack our right edge, so it's his left side," Lewis said.

"We'll be ready, we'll be prepared for him. It's going to be a tough ask (to contain Ponga) so it's something we're all looking forward to as a group.

"Hats off to the young guy. I think he's been playing outstanding football and I love watching him play ... I love him but this weekend I won't love him for 80 minutes."

Sharks forward Jayson Bukuya, himself only a week back after suffering from a severe virus, said the team will benefit from having their experienced campaigners on the field.

"The young blokes have done well without the star players in the team and the older heads. We've done well but it's always good to get them back," he said.

"Hopefully we can get a win together again this week and build some more confidence with the new players coming back into the team."

Despite the Sharks' five game winning streak, coach Shane Flanagan was acutely aware that his team cannot afford to clock off against the Knights.

"It's been a really enjoyable month and a bit but we've got to keep going. (It's a) tough job up at Newcastle," he said.

"They started the season really well and sort of haven't had success over the last month but they're a really good footy team. If we don't go up there with the right attitude it'll all come to an end.

"I think we're an experienced enough team to not underprepare or think we're just going to go up there and get it done. It doesn't happen like that in the NRL and I think our team knows that."

Flanagan was also quick to quash comparisons between his current squad and the Sharks' 2016 premiership-winning team.

"We've definitely approached it that this is a new journey and we're not referring back to '16 ... this is a new team, a new journey, we've got new players in there," he explained.

"We'll never ever replicate 2016; that's over. Can we win the comp again? Of course we can, but we can't replicate '16."

The match on Sunday kicks off at 2pm, with both teams to don beanies as they run onto the field in support of the Mark Hughes Foundation's Beanie for Brain Cancer fundraiser. McDonald Jones Stadium will be specially renamed Beanie for Brain Cancer Stadium for the game.

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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