Two clubs keen to turn their fortunes around following disappointing last start losses, face off at PointsBet Stadium on Sunday in a game crucial to the finals chances of both teams.
The Sharks were below their best in going down to the Bulldogs last Sunday, while in Newcastle the Broncos were outplayed by the Knights, meaning this weekend's clash takes on extra significance.
For the Sharks, Sunday's game is more about getting their house in order than worrying about what the opposition might bring, with coach John Morris addressing a number of the on field issues that had been affecting his team’s performances in recent matches.
“Clearly we were nowhere near our best last week and the boys are hurting. They can’t wait to get out there to try to turn it around,” Morris said.
“While you respect every opposition you play, you need to look at yourself and what isn’t working well in our game at the moment and that’s what we’ve done this week.
“We’ve worked really hard on our core skill, which has been costing us, also defensively I just felt we didn’t defend with enough intent and aggression,” Morris added.
While Wade Graham is absent on State of Origin duties, Brisbane are missing four players in David Fifita, Matt Gillett, Corey Oates and Joe Ofahengaue, however Morris knows the Broncos are something of a bogey-side for the Sharks and that they will arrive at PointsBet Stadium with a formidable squad for Sunday’s game.
Alex Glenn has been slated for a return, while as Morris explains, on paper the Broncos have a forward pack who can match it with any team in the NRL.
“I know they’ve got one of the best forward packs in the comp. They’re a quality side,” he said.
With conditions predicted to be wet and slippery, points are likely to be at a premium, which could cause the game to follow a similar pattern to recent matches at PointsBet Stadium where the past four encounters have been decided by eight points or less.
Brisbane has an outstanding record against the Sharks, having won the past five between the two clubs and again the games have been close with less than eight points separating them in seven of the last nine encounters. The Broncos have also won five of the previous six matches at the Sharks home ground.
The Sharks go into the game sitting in seventh on 16 competition points, the Broncos 14th on 12, in a display of how crucial this match is to both teams and in giving an indication of just how close the NRL is in 2019.
Giving the Sharks a degree of confidence is the fact that they have won four of six at home this year and the Broncos are just two from eight in 2019 as the away team.
The game also gives the Sharks the opportunity to celebrate Indigenous Round at a home game, with the NRL side to play in the specially designed indigenous jerseys which they wore earlier in the year against the Dragons at WIN Stadium in round 11.
The celebrations, which include a pre-game ceremony featuring former Sharks and Titans star Preston Campbell, coincides with the first day of NAIDOC Week with the aim to recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future.
The Sharks v Broncos game is scheduled for a 4.05pm kick off at PointsBet Stadium, with the Sharks 19-man squad listed below.
Blayke Brailey and Scott Sorensen have been omitted from the original 21-man squad as announced on Tuesday.