Dale Finucane and Nicho Hynes for the Sharks, Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Burton and Brent Naden amongst others are new to the Bulldogs, with fans to get their first glimpse of the 2022 recruits in their new colours when the two teams meet in a trial match at PointsBet Stadium on Monday.
A young Sharks side went down by 34-6 to the Panthers a week ago in a first hit out for 2021, the Bulldogs played out a 16-all draw with the Knights, however many of the young up and comers will make way for the experienced stars this time around as the intensity goes up a notch on Monday night.
Wade Graham is one player to miss the opening trial match last weekend, however after a long and demanding pre-season, one he estimates to be his 13th or 14th at an NRL level, the Sharks skipper is keen to get back on the paddock before the season officially kicks off for his team on March 11.
“It’s been a great pre-season really, with Fitzy coming across with a lot of changes, that combined with the new players, it’s been a breath of fresh air,” Graham said. “But we’re happy to get to the end of it and play some footy.”
While Graham returns ready and confident, so too Ronaldo Mulitalo, who in suffering a broken jaw three games out from the finish of last season, ended his 2021 on a sour note.
“I ended the season not the way I wanted to last year, but this will be a good audition to show all our fans what we’ve been working on in the off-season,” Mulitalo said of Monday’s trial match.
“We can start to get our combinations going and I can’t wait to run out. I’m excited.”
Also set to share his excitement will be the likes of Finucane and Hynes, who get the chance to play in front of a pro-Sharks crowd at PointsBet as the heroes instead of the ‘villians’, with both Graham and Mulitalo keen to see what the new boys can deliver.
“All the new boys who’ve come in have done an awesome job in driving our standards and not it’s about putting that into play,” Mulitalo said.
As for Hynes, who takes control of the Sharks team as one of the chief playmakers, Mulitalo is especially looking forward to what the former Storm star might bring.
“I can’t wait to run out with him. He’s a world class player with world class skills,” Mulitalo said.
Similarly, Graham has enjoyed what the senior recruits such as Finucane, Hynes and Cameron McInnes, who will miss the trial match due to injury, have brought with them to the Cronulla club.
“They’re established players in their own right and it’s been good to have them to bounce ideas off. They’ve fit in well and are probably just as excited to get the footy going as I am,” Graham added.
While Finucane will start the game at lock, Hynes in the halves, missing from the trial will be McInnes who had a minor procedure carried out on his knee midweek.
Another to be watching on from the sidelines will be Matt Moylan, who has been given the night off on Monday with an eye to having him fresh and ready to fire in round one, with the Sharks other halves option in Braydon Trindall to play the Bulldogs trial but to miss the first two games of the season due to suspension.
Jack Williams is also unavailable for the trial after undergoing a procedure similar to McInnes on his knee, while Aiden Tolman is another sidelined. Williams will miss the opening rounds of the season, while it is hoped Tolman will be available for selection for round one.
Former Rooster Matt Ikuvalu plays his first game for the Sharks, as does utility Lochie Miller who has been named on an extended bench.
The Sharks have named a squad of 22 players for Monday’s match, with it hinted that the senior group will see 40 to 50 minutes of game time as their tune up for the Raiders in round one.
CLICK HERE to see the Sharks team list.
Note a change to the kick off time for the Sharks v Bulldogs trial, which is now scheduled for a 6.00pm kick off at PointsBet Stadium due to a rescheduling of the Warriors v Titans trial and a request from the NRL and their host broadcasters. That match was originally set down for Saturday afternoon and will now get underway on the Gold Coast following the Sharks v Bulldogs game.
The Newtown Jets, the Sharks partner club in the NSW Cup, play the curtain raiser beginning at 3.45pm.
For all match day information, including ticketing, transport and the Sharks vaccination policy, go to the following link – CLICK HERE