NRL Preview – Sharks v Cowboys

The last Sydney game for Jonathan Thurston, the 100th NRL match for Valentine Holmes, the Sharks star also looking to establish a new club try-scoring record, not to mention the fact the Cronulla side are fighting for a top four berth, and the scene is set for an exciting Saturday night encounter at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

It's a game between the sixth-placed Sharks and a North Queensland team languishing in 16th, but the NRL competition has proved to be unpredictable in recent weeks, with the Sharks wary of what the Cowboys might bring tomorrow night.

At his midweek media call on Tuesday, Andrew Fifita spoke about his team concentrating on this weekend, not getting wrapped up in Thurston's retirement parade, nor looking too far into the future.

"The Cowboys this week, JT wants to go out on a high, they're not coming down here to lose, but they're coming to our home, we love this place and it's not going to be easy for them either," Fifita said.

"We've got to think about this week and not what's ahead. They have a quality team all across the park and my focus is on the Cowboys."

Similarly, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has Finals and the run into the big end of season games in the back of his mind, but first point of business was the Cowboys, especially when considering they had one of the greats of the game leading their side.

"I've just go to worry about us playing well tomorrow, focus on what we can do, win tomorrow and continue to do that for the rest of the season," Flanagan said.

"As for JT, he's a key figure in your discussions around the Cowboys. A lot of their structure and their attack comes off him.

"I think with (Matt) Scott and (Jordan) McLean back, everyone said he's gone a year too long, but it's given JT his spring back, they've been going forward and he's been playing off the back of it and that's the key. That's why JT and the Cowboys are back in form."

As for the respective teams for tomorrow night's clash, the news hadn't filtered through to Flanagan before his press conference that Cowboys Co-Captain Matt Scott was a late withdrawal, with the international front rower to join their powerhouse lock forward Jason Taumalolo on the sideline.

Taumalolo is missing due to a one-week suspension for a shoulder charge.

For the Sharks, the run of bad luck continues for Wade Graham, who strained a medial ligament in his teams win over the Storm.

A frustrated Graham also fronted the media this week and explained the most recent injury would sideline him for one, maybe two weeks.

"I'll be back out there sooner rather than later. Probably not this week and we'll see how we go for next week. Its another challenge and I've just go to keep moving forward," Graham said.

Along with Graham, Sione Katoa has been omitted from the Sharks 21-man squad as named on Tuesday, with Sosaia Feki again preferred on the Sharks left wing.

Joseph Paulo and Ava Seumanfagai, in jerseys 18 and 19 have been retained on an extended Sharks bench.

The Sharks v Cowboys match is scheduled to get underway at 7.30pm, with a Sharks v New Zealand Warriors Jersey Flegg game the curtain-raiser kicking off at 5.05pm.

NRL Team List – Round 23
Sharks v Cowboys
Saturday, August 18
Southern Cross Group Stadium
Kick-off – 7.30pm

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

Tale of the Tape
Head to Head
Played 45
Sharks 27 wins
Cowboys 18

At Southern Cross Group Stadium
Played 18
Sharks 13 wins
Cowboys 5

Past 10 matches
Sharks 4 wins
Cowboys 6

Most recent
Round 1, 2018 – Cowboys 20 Sharks 14

Biggest margins
Sharks 42 Cowboys 6, Toyota Park, 2000
Cowboys 56 Sharks 14, Dairy Farmers Stadium, 2005