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Slow starts, not Holmes rivalry, a focus for struggling Cronulla

Cronulla's 0-3 start to the season is enough to shy them away from any focus around their clash with premiership-winning ex-teammate Valentine Holmes on Saturday night.

The Sharks have been notoriously slow starters in the first month of the competition for almost a decade but have still reached the finals, most notably in 2015 where they dropped their opening four games bit still finished sixth.

However, the shortened and revamped schedule in 2020 leaves them requiring at least 11 wins for a finals spot according to NRL.com's finals cut-off calculations.

Sharks forward Scott Sorensen believes their poor early-season record can be rectified.

Cronulla conceded two tries inside nine minutes against the Wests Tigers last week to go with their round one effort of trailing by eight at halftime against the Rabbitohs.

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"It was quite disappointing, we've addressed it, have been really honest and clear this week with how we want to perform," Sorensen said on Wednesday.

"I don't think there are issues but maybe our attitude with how we've been playing. We've missed the start in two games and this weekend we want to fix that."

Impact bench forward Braden Hamlin-Uele helped provide a spark for the side before halftime against Wests Tigers in round three as the Sharks scoring three tries in a positive period.  

We ... have been really honest and clear this week

Sharks prop Braden Hamlin-Uele

Hamlin-Uele will line up against his former Cowboys teammates at Queensland Country Bank Stadium after making his NRL debut in 2017.

"As an interchange player we're brought on to raise the energy levels and if our starts are slow it makes it a bit harder but that shouldn't be an excuse for us to play bad," he said.

"It's easy to change momentum with one big tackle or one big run.

"There's parts all over our game that aren't perfect. One week it could be the starts and another it could be us middles not laying a platform as we should.

"It goes hand-in-hand with everything. Not all games are going to be perfect but it's how we handle the mistakes and react to those mistakes."

Holmes' first clash against his former club hasn't had the biggest build-up with the recent retirement of Paul Gallen leaving former teammatess to talk about his exit.

Gallen expressed his disappointment at Holmes' departure in November, 2018, to pursue a career in the NFL despite having a year left on his then Sharks deal.

Sharks forward Scott Sorensen.
Sharks forward Scott Sorensen. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

He later wanted Holmes banned for at least a further 12 months if he wanted to return to the NRL in 2020 - a deal struck with North Queensland a year after leaving the Shire.

Sorensen said there were no ill-feelings towards the former representative star despite agreeing with recent comments made by Sharks captain Wade Graham that the situation could've been handled better.

"It's a tricky one, just in terms of communication with the club and Val himself [at the time]," Sorensen said.

"[But] there's no hard feelings that I know of from the playing group, none whatsoever. He's a quality athlete and I'm sure he's just as excited to come up against us this weekend.

"I can't wait to get into him."