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Madimack Matchups: Sharks v Bulldogs

After locking horns in a gritty affair at the start of the season, the Sharks and Bulldogs meet in the return bout on Friday night.

Cronulla kicked clear late to score a 25-6 win at home in Round 2, but both sides have since improved, with the Sharks in third position and Canterbury sixth.

While disappointing not to have any players selected for State of Origin II, the silver lining for the Sharks is a refreshed line-up at Accor Stadium.

Canterbury will wait and see how captain Stephen Crichton pulls up from Wednesday's interstate showpiece before deciding if he will play, but regardless, there are a smorgasbord of interesting head-to-head battles to come.

With this in mind, let's delve into this round's key Madimack Matchups.

Madimack Matchups - Round 17

Kayal Iro v Jacob Kiraz

It's easy to forget Iro has only played 12 NRL games, such has been his reliability and consistency since making the left centre role his own in Round 4.

The 24-year-old is a force out of the backfield, averaging almost 170 metres per match while also proving stout in defence with an 89% tackle efficiency rate.

Similarly, Kiraz is a workhorse for the Dogs, having run for more than 200 metres in his past two games and cracking a triple ton against the Storm in Round 6.

Braydon Trindall v Matt Burton

Much has been made of Burton's monster boot, but his five-eighth counterpart Trindall's long kicking game is an underrated asset for the Sharks.

Trindall is regaining his rhythm with halves partner Nicho Hynes, having shown earlier in the season that he can be the perfect foil for the marquee man.

Burton, meanwhile, will return to his favoured playmaking role after shifting to the centres in last week's defeat to the Roosters. A strong runner and creator, the headgear-wearing playmaker must be kept at close quarters by the defence.

Royce Hunt v Josh Curran

Interchange colossus Hunt has epitomised impact in recent weeks, producing a match-turning stint in a win over the Broncos and scoring with his first touch against the Dolphins in Round 15 to powerfully change the tide again.

While Hunt deals out damage in short, sharp bursts, Bulldogs bench forward Curran's effectiveness stems from his work ethic, particularly in defence.

They may be somewhat contrasting players, but both have an important task in either maintaining or flipping the momentum when they're injected into the action.

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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