The long hours under the summer sun preparing players for what lies ahead, is a necessary evil in getting a team up to speed and ready to tackle the rigours or an NRL season.
It also provides opportunity for players to stake their claim and secure positions in the top squad for the season ahead.
While the status quo can stay the same and line ups often look similar from one season to the next, things can also quickly change as new players emerge and squad lists evolve, with teams sometimes taking on a new look.
With three spots to fill on their 2021 roster, the Sharks have depth across most positions with a strong mix of youth and experience amongst their top 30 squad.
But who will run out round one when the Sharks tackle the Dragons and maybe more significantly, which players will cement positions in the top 17 as the year progresses?
We cast an eye over John Morris’s wing options for 2021.
Sione Katoa and Ronaldo Mulitalo are the incumbent Sharks wingers having played strongly throughout 2020 and nothing that has taken place during the summer indicates they aren’t both firmly in the frame to slot back into those positions come round one.
Katoa had a slight setback due to a beach accident prior to Christmas, however the Club’s leading try scorer from last year is back to his bouncing best and ready to take his place in the Sharks side .
He scored 16 tries in 19 matches, many of those the result of spectacular finishes, with Katoa’s running game from the backfield also a feature of his game.
While on the other wing, Mulitalo was similarly impressive.
The 20-year-old runs hard, plays with enthusiasm and his 12 tries in 16 games shows he also knows how to get across the stripe.
However, while Katoa and Mulitalo appear to be the front runners, Coach Morris has a few candidates, including a handful of young up and comers and one experienced campaigner, waiting in the ‘wings’ to take their chance.
Nene MacDonald returns for a second season at the Sharks and he does so aiming to win a permanent place in the Cronulla team.
Last year may have been a frustrating one for the PNG International when he managed just two top grade appearances, but as a noted try scorer, one with 99 games of NRL experience and once rated amongst the NRL's leading wingers, a fit and firing MacDonald could prove to be a major asset to the Sharks as the 2021 season progresses.
But before any of the established stars get too comfortable, plenty of good judges predict bit things of a trio of newcomers in the Sharks squad in Jackson Ferris, Jensen Taumoepeau and Jonaiah Lualua.
All three have come through the Sharks development system, with Ferris earning an NRL debut in 2020 where he was impressive in a win over Brisbane before suffering an injury. Probably more suited to the centres, Ferris also shapes as a wing option if needed.
As for the other two, Jensen is an imposing figure tipping the scales at around 100kgs and he possibly has the jump on Lualua at this point after spending much of 2020 training with the NRL squad.
Two talented youngsters both possess the ability to succeed at the top level and while it may not be round one, remember the names as there may come a time during 2021 when they are unleased on the NRL.
Two hot favourites for the Sharks wing positions in 2021 but will that be the way it pans out? Who are your predictions to claim the number 2 and 5 jerseys for the Sharks in the season ahead?
In case you missed it
2021 Sharks NRL Squad - Fullbacks - CLICK HERE