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Madimack Matchups - Sharks v Warriors

Heading deep into enemy territory across the ditch is no easy task to kick off a season, but the steely Sharks are ready to meet the challenge of the resurgent Warriors at Auckland's Go Media Stadium.

Both teams boast an abundance of class and strike-power, with several crucial individual battles likely to have a heavy bearing on Friday night's result.

In a new series brought to you by Madimack, Sharks Media will focus on three key player matchups each week this season. Here are our picks for round one.

Round 1 - Madimack Matchups

Nicho Hynes v Shaun Johnson

A dominant halfback performance always goes a long way to securing a win, but even more so when the No.7s are as influential as Hynes and Johnson.

Hynes won the Dally M Medal in 2022 and finished third in last year's count, while veteran Johnson - an ex-Shark - enjoyed arguably his finest season in 2023 and was perhaps unlucky not to take out the NRL's most prestigious individual award.

The pair led the way in try assists last year, Johnson with 29 and Hynes 28 per NRL Stats. Reliable organisers who also possess lethal running games, whichever playmaker gets the upper hand will surely put their team in the box seat.

Johnson led the Warriors to two victories over Cronulla last season, including an unbelievable comeback in round five, so Hynes will be keen to exact revenge.

Royce Hunt v Addin Fonua-Blake

There are few better sights than two enforcers going head-to-head, and with damaging Sharks prop Royce Hunt named to start, there could be early fireworks.

Hunt will want to set the tone as he locks horns with future teammate Addin Fonua-Blake, the world-class front-rower who has signed with Cronulla from 2025. 

The powerful big boppers won't take a backward step in a bid to lay a platform through the middle and critically seize the ascendancy in the opening exchanges.

Braydon Trindall v Luke Metcalf

There are similarities between Trindall and Metcalf, gifted five-eighths who have golden opportunities to fully establish themselves as starting players.

Cronulla's Trindall made the most of his time alongside Nicho Hynes in the back half of last year, and with Matt Moylan having departed the club over the off-season, the path is clear for the 24-year-old to own the No.6 jersey.

Meanwhile, Metcalf - an electric former Shark who played six NRL matches with Trindall in 2021 - showed his capabilities in his first campaign at the Warriors and has earned the first crack as Shaun Johnson's offsider in 2024.

While they may play a supporting role to their superstar halves partners, the pivot that leaves the biggest mark on the contest may well get their team over the line.

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.

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