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Fine weather, fast track, for Sharks v Warriors clash

The prospect of fine weather and a fast PointsBet Stadium surface for Sunday afternoon football in the Shire points to an exciting clash when the New Zealand Warriors come to town to tackle the Sharks tomorrow.

After a disappointing result in their round eight match against Brisbane, the Sharks will be aiming to bounce back and to consolidate their position amongst the competition front runners but it will be a difficult challenge against a Warriors team that enjoyed a golden point victory at their most recent outing, just a week after being trounced by Melbourne.

“They’ve managed to get their way through a couple of really tight games this year and it was a pretty remarkable comeback for them after the week before,” coach Craig Fitzgibbon said. “They’ve done really well to get themselves back on track and we’re expecting and anticipating a tough game. We’ll have to be prepared and play well.”

Coming up against a robust and aggressive forward pack, Fitzgibbon explained he will be looking for his men to control the middle of the field in an effort to restrict the opportunities for the strike players out wide.

“They are a threat across the board, Reece Walsh and Shaun Johnson can do anything at any time we’ll have to keep a good handle on the forwards so they don’t get any time and space,” the coach added.

From the Sharks perspective, they will be bolstered by the return of inspirational leader Dale Finucane, who with Wade Graham named on the interchange bench, will lead the team out on Sunday.

“Dale comes back in after a couple of games out and he’s very important to how we play. All his teammates are excited to get him back out there,” Fitzgibbon said.

While the addition of Finucane is a boost, so to Graham who managed to get through 23 minutes in Brisbane last week in his first NRL game since round 14 last year.

Graham has been included on the Sharks interchange bench for tomorrow’s game.

In further team news, Ronaldo Mulitalo was a late withdrawal after failing to get through the captains run earlier today. Mulitalo has battled the flu throughout the week. 

His place in the Sharks backline has been taken by Connor Tracey, with the local junior having recovered from the groin injury which has kept him sidelined in recent weeks. 

The match also marks the return of former Shark Shaun Johnson who is back in the Shire after playing 44 matches for the Cronulla club through the 2019 to 2021 seasons.

It was Johnson who kicked the Warriors home last weekend against the Raiders with his extra time field goal.

Since entering the NRL competition in 1998 the Warriors have won just 25 percent of their 16 games at the Sharks home ground, their last victory at PointsBet Stadium coming in 2015, ironically when Johnson scored the match-winner in the final minute of the match.

Overall, in the head-to-head the ledger is a lot closer, the Sharks winning on 26 occasions, the Warriors on 18. In recent times however the Cronulla side has won eight of the past 10 matches, with the Warriors breaking a four match losing streak to the Sharks in Round 21 last year with an 18-16 win.

While the Sharks will be looking to rebound after their loss to the Broncos, the Warriors come into the match following a 21-20 golden point victory over Canberra, the win coming courtesy of the Johnson field goal, his second match winning one-pointer in 2022.

The Warriors are chasing their 300th NRL win in what is their 664th NRL match.

In relation to the coaches, Fitzgibbon and Warriors boss Nathan Brown were teammates in 1999 while playing for St George Illawarra, the pair both involved in the Grand Final loss to Melbourne.  

The Sharks v Warriors match is scheduled for a 4.05pm kick-off at PointsBet Stadium, with the two 19-man squads listed below.

The Sharks have retained Mawene Hiroti and Andrew Fifita in their extended line up, with a decision on the final 17-man team to be determined before the game tomorrow. 

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
    Fullback for Warriors is number 1 Reece Walsh
  • Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
    Winger for Warriors is number 2 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  • Centre for Sharks is number 3 Jesse Ramien
    Centre for Warriors is number 3 Viliami Vailea
  • Centre for Sharks is number 4 Siosifa Talakai
    Centre for Warriors is number 4 Rocco Berry
  • Winger for Sharks is number 22 Connor Tracey
    Winger for Warriors is number 5 Adam Pompey
  • Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Matt Moylan
    Five-Eighth for Warriors is number 6 Daejarn Asi
  • Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Nicholas Hynes
    Halfback for Warriors is number 7 Shaun Johnson

Forwards

  • Prop for Sharks is number 8 Toby Rudolf
    Prop for Warriors is number 8 Addin Fonua-Blake
  • Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
    Hooker for Warriors is number 9 Wayde Egan
  • Prop for Sharks is number 13 Dale Finucane
    Prop for Warriors is number 10 Matthew Lodge
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
    2nd Row for Warriors is number 11 Euan Aitken
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Teig Wilton
    2nd Row for Warriors is number 12 Eliesa Katoa
  • Lock for Sharks is number 15 Cameron McInnes
    Lock for Warriors is number 13 Jazz Tevaga

Interchange

  • Interchange for Sharks is number 10 Aiden Tolman
    Interchange for Warriors is number 14 Jack Murchie
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Jack Williams
    Interchange for Warriors is number 15 Ben Murdoch-Masila
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Wade Graham
    Interchange for Warriors is number 16 Bunty Afoa
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 19 Andrew Fifita
    Interchange for Warriors is number 17 Aaron Pene

Reserves

  • Replacement for Sharks is number 21 Mawene Hiroti
  • Reserve for Warriors is number 18 Bayley Sironen

Match Officials

  • Referee: Todd Smith
  • Touch Judge: Darian Furner
  • Touch Judge: Dave Munro
  • Senior Review Official: Adam Gee

Last updated:

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.