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Sharks ‘dress rehearsal’ against traditional foe

Sunday’s trial game against Manly gives the Sharks stars a chance to blow off some of the cobwebs of the off-season, while offering the opportunity for the young guns to press their claims for a round one berth.

For Josh Morris and Jesse Ramien in the backline, Shaun Johnson and Chad Townsend in the halves, along with front rowers Andrew Fifita and Aaron Woods, this weekend is the final dress rehearsal before the action really gets underway in two weeks’ time.

For the likes of Sione Katoa, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Connor Tracey and Toby Rudolf, a solid performance against a strong Manly side would go a long way towards locking in a round one jersey for the season-opener against Souths at ANZ Stadium.

It’s only a trial as they say, competition points don’t go on the line, however Sharks coach John Morris is certainly taking the game seriously.

"It’s kind of your last dress rehearsal and you want to try and run as close to what you're starting 13 and 17 will be for round one,” Morris said. “But also for me no one has got their jersey stitched up for round one. That will need to be determined off the next couple of weeks at training.

"That's been my message to all the boys all year. Those who work the hardest and earn the jumpers are going to be the ones that get them.

“And it's a big game for us, we want to come out and stand up to Manly. They've had it all over us the last few years. We played them in a trial last year and they got into us as well.

"So it's a perfect trial for us. A nice physical, strong team and importantly it's a dress rehearsal for us at Netstrata at Kogarah,” Morris added.

Not only will Sunday allow the players to familiarise themselves with Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, but as Morris would go on to explain, the trial also offers members and fans a chance to check out what is set to be the Sharks home for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.  

“I'd really encourage all the Sharks fans and our members to get out and support the game and really check out the ground. We're really excited about going there and playing our games there and we hope they are too,” Morris said.

Also excited about the Manly trial is Sharks half Connor Tracey, who could find himself as the team’s utility come round one, due to his ability, his versatility and the season-ending injury to hooker Cameron King.

Tracey has been chosen in jersey 14 for Sunday’s trial and looks set to spend time both in the halves and as a back up to young hooker Blayke Brailey.

“It’s upsetting what happened to Kingy, I feel for him, I’ve been there myself,” Tracey said. “I’ll stand in there at hooker for a bit and see how I go. It’s just getting in the middle and getting your D right. I’ll look forward to that.”  

Another keen to put his best foot forward will be fullback Will Kennedy, who with the uncertainty surrounding Matt Moylan’s fitness and after an impressive trial outing in PNG last weekend, is certainly in the frame to claim the number one jersey.

On the other side of the ledger, while Manly have left out Daly Cherry-Evans, Dylan Walker and Tom Trbojevic, while Jake Trbojevic is also missing as he continues his recovery from off-season surgery, their physical forward pack, led by Martin Taupau will present a challenge to the Sharks up front.

Youngster Luke Metcalf, a former Sharks junior, comes into the Manly team at fullback, with his electric speed something the Cronulla side will need to be wary of.

The Sharks v Manly trial kicks off at 6.00pm at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, with the entry cost a gold coin donation, with all proceeds going to the Sharks Fight for Fine appeal.

The game will be live streamed through the NRL.com website and NRL app.

Lower grade trial action this weekend will be at Henson Park, with the Sharks Jersey Flegg team playing Manly at 12noon, followed by the Newtown Jets v Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles game at 2.00pm.

The two teams, which are subject to change, are listed below.

 

Sharks v Manly
Sunday, March 1
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off – 6.00pm
Entry – Gold coin donation – proceeds to the ‘Fight for Fine’

 

Sharks Team List
1 Will Kennedy

2 Sione Katoa

3 Josh Morris

4 Jesse Ramien

5 Ronaldo Mulitalo

6 Shaun Johnson

7 Chad Townsend

8 Andrew Fifita

9 Blayke Brailey

10 Aaron Woods

11 Briton Nikora

12 Wade Graham

13 Jack Williams

Interchange

14 Connor Tracey

15 Braden Hamlin-Uele

16 Toby Rudolf

17 Scott Sorensen

18 Billy Magoulias

19 Siosifa Talakai

20 Royce Hunt

21 Jackson Ferris

 

Manly Team List
1 Luke Metcalf

2 Jorge Taufua

3 Brad Parker

4 Moses Suli

5 Tevita Funa

6 Lachlan Croker

7 Cade Cust

8 Toafofoa Sipley

9 Danny Levi

10 Martin Taupau

11 Joel Thompson

12 Curtis Sironen

13 Sean Keppie

INTERCHANGE

14 Brendan Elliot

15 Abbas Miski

16 Josh Schuster

17 Haumole Olakau’atu

18 Zac Saddler

19 Zach Dockar-Clay

20 Dane Aukafolau

21 Keith Titmuss

22 Alec Tuitavake

23 Edwin Ipape

24 Sam Manuleleau

25 Reed Izzard

26 Alfred Smalley