It’s a significant occasion for Paul Gallen, who goes past Andrew Ettingshausen as the most-capped player in the club’s history, but in the scheme of their season, its a big game for a Sharks team looking to take down a difficult opponent and establish a winning record early on in 2019.
Gallen downplayed his milestone, preferring to worry about coming home from Townsville on Sunday with two valuable competition points, while despite coming up against a difficult opponent, on the road in Townsville and without their main strike weapon in Jason Taumalolo, it was still a difficult assignment.
Add to the absence of Taumalolo, a couple of backline changes after their coach wielded the axe, but Sharks coach Morris is certain his team wont be taking the Cowboys lightly.
“They’ve had few changes but it’s about getting our game right. When you look at their pack, they have Jordan McLean, Matt Scott, State of Origin backrowers, Asiata off the bench and Michael Morgan steering the ship,” Morris said.
“It’s a good thing we don't have to handle JT but there will be no sense of security from us. We know whenever you come you come up against the Cowboys its a very intense game, very physical.”
While the Sharks arrive in Townsville on the back of a win, albeit a scratchy one at home against the Titans, the Cowboys will be looking to make up for a disappointing loss to the Broncos at their last start.
The Sharks will run out with the same side which got the points last week, however the Cowboys have made a number of changes, Taumalolo out for up to 10 weeks and after both centres were dropped by coach Paul Green.
Sosaia Feki, who came off late in the game last Saturday, and hooker Jayden Brailey after failing his head injury assessment, have both been passed fit to play and will take their place in the Sharks side, with Morris sticking with the same team that played the Titans.
At a difficult venue for visiting teams, the Sharks have enjoyed limited success, but they can look back at a 26-16 win in 2017 and a narrow loss in round one last year as evidence they can match the Cowboys in the hostile surroundings.
In the 46 head to head matches played between the two teams, the Sharks hold a 28-18 advantage, while they also hold the upper hand, having won 12 of 23 games contested at 1300SMILES Stadium.
The Sharks v Cowboys match is scheduled for a 4.30pm kick off local time (5.30pm AEDST).
Kyle Flanagan and Braden Hamlin-Uele come out of the originally selected 21-man squad, with Scott Sorensen and youngster Bronson Xerri retained as 18th and 19th men.
The Sharks squad is listed below.
NRL Team List - Sharks v Titans
Saturday, March 30
1300 Smiles Stadium
Kick-off – 5.30pm
1. Matt Moylan
2. Sosaia Feki
3. Josh Dugan
4. Josh Morris
5. Sione Katoa
6. Shaun Johnson
7. Chad Townsend
8. Andrew Fifita
9. Jayden Brailey
10. Matt Prior
11. Briton Nikora
12. Kurt Capewell
13. Paul Gallen (c)
14. Blayke Brailey
15. Jayson Bukuya
16. Aaron Woods
17. Jack Williams
18. Scott Sorenson
19. Kyle Flanagan