‘Learned our lesson’: Sharks wary of lowly Rabbitohs

Jasper Bruce |

The Sharks say they have learned the lessons from their disappointing defeat to Wests Tigers.
The Sharks say they have learned the lessons from their disappointing defeat to Wests Tigers.

Wests Tigers taught Cronulla a lesson that will remain front of mind for the Sharks’ playing group ahead of their clash with down-and-out South Sydney.

Under Craig Fitzgibbon, Cronulla have cultivated a reputation for taking care of sides they’ve been expected to beat, but the Tigers managed to ambush their highly fancied foes last month.

The hungry Tigers, handily beaten the week before, stunned the Sharks for a 26-point win that left Fitzgibbon questioning his side’s enthusiasm and attitude.

Three weeks on and the Sharks find themselves in a similar situation as hot favourites against a Rabbitohs side who are last on the ladder with a 1-4 record.

Star fullback Latrell Mitchell is suspended from Saturday’s game, with coach Jason Demetriou’s job seemingly on the line after his side also capitulated from finals contention in 2023.

But the Sharks now know better than to underestimate their opposition.

“We learned our lesson against the Tigers and I don’t think that’s going to happen again. It’s not a good feeling,” second-rower Teig Wilton said.

“We just didn’t honour the laws of the game. We had to complete our sets and do all the little things that make you win a game of footy, and the Tigers came to play. 

“We just didn’t match them.”

Will Kennedy of the Sharks attempts to tackle Tigers' Api Koroisau.
Cronulla struggled to get to grips with Wests Tigers in their round-three defeat. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

The Sharks, coming off the bye, believe it is in their own hands to prevent a similar upset loss at Accor Stadium.

“It’s just sticking to our plan, what we’re doing through the week at training,” fullback Will Kennedy said.

“If we’re doing that and doing our jobs as individuals, it’ll come together as a team and it should work out for us.

“We took a lot from that (Tigers game).”

Kennedy is set to face off against diminutive NRL debutant Jye Gray, who impressed in the pre-season challenge and will replace Mitchell at fullback for Souths.

“I’ve heard a lot about him, that he’s a fast and nippy kind of fella,” Kennedy said.

Briton Nikora has been named to return from suspension against the Rabbitohs but fellow forward Dale Finucane will still need at least another week to recover from his facial injury.

“I’m sure he’ll do a job for us,” Kennedy said of Nikora.

Front-rowers Toby Rudolf and Braden Hamlin-Uele have been included in the extended squad and could make a late charge into the 17 if they can shake off their injuries.