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NRL Preview - Sharks v Warriors

The Sharks can take a step closer to challenging for a top four berth on Friday night, however the assignment is a difficult one against a Warriors side riding high on confidence and sitting in fourth position on the NRL ladder.

Four points behind their opponents and with a win almost essential should they hope to press for the coveted double-shot in the finals come September, the importance of the clash tomorrow hasn't been lost on Sharks coach Shane Flanagan.

"It's crucial for us, especially leading into a bye," Flanagan said. "You need to start beating those teams in front of you if you want to be a top four team and we're taking that approach. It's an all-out win for us this weekend."

A last start loss to the Broncos, before 10 Sharks players headed off in different directions to represent their country or state during the rep round last weekend, has the Sharks relatively well-rested but in need of a win with just nine games to go in the 2018 NRL season.

While no additional injuries were reported from the rep matches, the Sharks have headed across the ditch without injured trio Luke Lewis, Wade Graham and Josh Dugan, however somewhat lessening the blow they were able to secure a major addition to their squad during the week, with Australian and NSW front rower Aaron Woods becoming a Shark on Tuesday.

Woods travelled to Auckland with the Sharks team and while expected to play, Flanagan had yet to determine his final 17 for the Warriors clash.

"I'm not even sure if Woodsy will play. We're taking 19 over there and we'll see how it unfolds," Flanagan told the media before boarding a plane on Wednesday.

"I think he'll suit our club and our club will rub off on him. I know he's got a lot to contribute."

Woods had likely been dissecting video highlights of the Newcastle Knights, the next opponent for his team the Bulldogs, before circumstances dictated it was the Kiwi side he would be facing in round 16.

"They've been one of the form sides of the comp," he said of the Warriors. "Their spine with Blake Green and Shaun Johnson, have been playing some really good footy. A few of their players got to play for the Kiwis, Tonga and Samoa over the weekend, so they're going to come back with a lot of confidence.

"It's going to be a big game," Woods said.

Just five days after the second game of the Origin series, Sharks duo Valentine Holmes and Matt Prior will be back on deck tomorrow night.

Holmes was outstanding on the wing for the Maroons, scoring a try and running for a game-high 200 metres, while Prior did the job required in making 23 tackles in two stints on the field in the Blues winning effort.

With Dugan missing, Holmes slots back into the fullback role, while Prior has been named to start in the front row.

In relation to the Sharks opponents the Warriors, travel issues stemming from the Denver Test Match between New Zealand and England, have somewhat disrupted their preparations, with the three players involved late to return home due to flight delays.

The team was announced on Tuesday with Isaac Luke, Peta Hiku and Ken Maumalo named on an extended bench, rather than in the starting side.

As for the Sharks, forward Ava Seumanufagai and outside back Aaron Gray, following a strong performance for the NSW Residents in their game against Queensland on Origin night, have been included in the 19-man traveling party.

Scott Sorensen and Kurt Capewell are named to start for the Sharks in the back row in place of Graham and Lewis.

The Sharks v Warriors match is scheduled for an 8.00pm kick off (Local time – 6.00pm Sydney) at Mt Smart Stadium.

NRL Team List – Round 16
Sharks v Warriors
Friday, June 29
Mt Smart Stadium
Kick-off – 6pm (Sydney time)

1 Valentine Holmes
2 Sione Katoa
3 Jesse Ramien
4 Ricky Leutele
5 Edrick Lee
6 Matt Moylan
7 Chad Townsend
8 Andrew Fifita
9 Jayden Brailey
10 Matt Prior
11 Kurt Capewell
12 Scott Sorensen
13 Paul Gallen
Interchange
14 Joseph Paulo
15 James Segeyaro
16 Aaron Woods
17 Jayson Bukuya
18 Aaron Gray
19 Ava Seumanufagai

Tale of the tape
Head to Head
Played 37
Sharks 21 wins
Warriors 16 wins

At Mt Smart
Played 17
Sharks 8 wins
Warriors 9 wins

Past 10 matches
Sharks 7 wins
Warriors 3 wins

Biggest margins
Sharks 45 Warriors 4, Mt Smart Stadium, 2012
Warriors 30 Sharks 0, Erickson Stadium, 2001