After a week to rest up and recover, Jesse Ramien is ready to take on the Panthers on Friday night.
Last weekend's bye could not have been timelier for breakout Sharks gun Jesse Ramien, who is playing his first full season of taxing NRL football.
The explosive 21-year-old centre spent a few days away on the Central Coast visiting his young daughter, LaSharn, and is now feeling rejuvenated as the finals draw near.
"I just kicked back with my little one, a bit of family and my partner. It was good to get away," he said. "It was good to rest the body, give it time off footy and clear the head a bit."
It was the appeal of living closer to LaSharn that swayed Ramien to leave the Sutherland Shire in 2019 and take up a deal at the Newcastle Knights. However, his current focus remains solely on the Sharks.
Ramien certainly can't be accused of taking it easy since announcing his impending departure back in February. He has been among Cronulla's best, scoring nine tries in 13 starts as well as averaging over 100 run metres per match.
But not even Ramien was anticipating such strong form.
"I wasn't really expecting it – I wasn't really expecting to play as many games as I have," he admitted.
"I set myself a goal at the start of the year to play as many first-grade games as I can. I've just been taking it week-to-week, playing every game like it's my last, trying not to leave anything out on the field, and just trying to do my part for the team."
Now, the aim of the former junior Kangaroo and his teammates will be to secure a coveted top four finish.
According to Ramien, the key to doing so is avoiding the mid-game lapses that have plagued the Sharks at times this year.
"We just have to play some consistent footy. I think we've been putting on a few good performances, but not so much 80-minute performances," he said. "If we can play some consistent footy at the back-end [of the season], then the wins will come off the end of that."
The Sharks' top four hopes have also been boosted by the recent addition of international prop Aaron Woods, who made his Sharks debut against the Warriors in round 16. Ramien said he is stoked to line up with the 14-time NSW Origin representative.
"'Woodsy' coming is massive for the whole club. For the backs, it's pretty good. He gets us on the front foot, he can take a few people with him and get a quick play-the-ball," he explained.
"He's just one of those [special] players, so it helps us out massively."
Cronulla's road to the play-offs begins this Friday with a mouth-watering clash against the fourth-placed Penrith at Panthers Stadium.
While the Sharks are gearing up for a bruising encounter, Ramien is confident they can leave the foot of the mountains with two valuable competition points.
"Penrith out at home are always going to be tough. They're playing some really good footy this year, and they have a pretty big side in the middle. I think it's going to be a real tough game for us," Ramien said.
"But if we can just control what we do and play our own game, then I think we can come away with it."