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Madimack Matchups - Sharks v Raiders

In this week's Madimack Matchups article, we preview the key head-to-head tussles in Sunday's Sharks-Raiders clash.

Injuries have struck Cronulla and forced a reshuffle, but the situation provides golden opportunities for several players to stand up and be counted.

See Sharks Media's players to watch below, with graphics highlighting season stats.

Round 4 - Madimack Matchups

Tom Hazelton v Josh Papalii

Starting for the first time, rising Sharks prop Hazelton will help lead a depleted forward pack against a formidable Canberra unit spearheaded by Papalii.

Hazelton got a taste of being thrust into the early action in last week's loss to Wests Tigers, scoring the opening try after replacing Toby Rudolf in the 11th minute.

At 198cm, the 25-year-old Hazelton will tower over Papalii (182cm), but the robust Raiders veteran has the advantage of experience with 285 NRL games against 22.

Kayal Iro v Matt Timoko

After biding his time as 18th man for the first three rounds, Sharks centre Iro has been handed his first NRL jersey since his only game two years ago.

Set to line up inside left winger Ronaldo Mulitalo with Siosifa Talakai shifted to the second row, Iro has the job of containing Raiders weapon Timoko.

Timoko, who bagged 11 tries in 25 matches last season and touched down in Canberra's last-start loss to the Warriors, looks headed for stardom after impressing in his maiden international performances for New Zealand in 2023.

But Iro, a Cook Islands representative who was crowned the 2022 NSW Cup Player of the Year, is also rated highly and now has the chance to make his mark.

Cameron McInnes v Morgan Smithies

It's the battle of the tackling machines as Cronulla co-captain McInnes meets English import Smithies, a similarly wholehearted lock forward.

Both players are averaging a tick under 38 tackles per match this season, with Smithies smashing out 46 in his first match for the Green Machine.

McInnes, having made an NRL-record 81 tackles against the Panthers last year, refuses to be outworked. The respective No.13s won't leave any fuel in the tank.

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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