Why I’m still not sold on Cronulla

MG Burbank Roar Guru

By MG Burbank, MG Burbank is a Roar Guru

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    The Sharks looking dejected during the round 25 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Cronulla Sharks. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan

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    I have to concede that, were one to look back through my columns during season 2012, one might suspect me of some kind of anti-Sharks bias.

    I consistently labelled them as overachievers who would fall at the most important hurdles. Luckily for my fragile ego, Cronulla did indeed fail their biggest test in 2012: an elimination semi against Canberra away from home.

    The team’s biggest problem, which was a lack of true gamebreaking ability across the park, let them down (a subdued performance in all aspects of the game didn’t help them either).

    So here we are in 2013. The Mayans were wrong, as was Mark Geyer, who predicted the world’s end upon hearing of the new shoulder charge ban.

    The caravan of life has moved on, and I find myself looking at Cronulla’s squad for the upcoming season.

    Some new faces, same problem.

    Who’s going to break open the elite teams aside from Todd Carney?

    It perplexes me that supposedly well-educated league scribes continue to be charmed by teams that add forward power to the point of naming them premiership favourites.

    Last season, Wests Tigers added Adam Blair, who was supposed to be their ‘key ingredient’ in winning another title. I guess the rest of us were just supposed to overlook the fact that they had no three-quarters, an untested fullback and an experiment in the halves.

    When will they learn: while possessing a powerful, athletic pack should make a team eminently more competitive, it can’t win you a competition. Even the champion Canterbury teams of the mid-80s that revolutionised the way defence was played contained match-winners like Terry Lamb, Steve Mortimer and Mick Potter.

    Class wins premierships. The go-forward and defensive grunt aspects can be manipulated and/or replaced.

    Cronulla have added more go-forward, workrate and power in the form of Luke Lewis, Chris Heighington and Bryce Gibbs, but who’s going to win them the close games with their creativity?

    Michael Gordon could be very good at fullback. Possibly. We’ll see. Jeff Robson will be the bland understudy to the star halfback who may never appear. Isaac De Gois at dummy half? Not raising the hairs on the necks of ruck defenders.

    The Sharks have high hopes for the young Fijian Ratini and a Kiwi kid named Sosaia Feki who did some damage in the Toyota Cup with the Warriors, but as of right now they’re about where they were last year, with a little extra muscle and punch in the forwards.

    Certainly nothing to worry any of the teams that finished above them last season.

    My last word on the Sharks (for today): despite this glitzy development funding they’ve been able to procure, fans shouldn’t be complacent about the club’s long-term future in the south of Sydney.

    With suburban grounds due to be phased out over the next ten years, a club in an area as isolated as the Sutherland Shire, far away from either Allianz or ANZ, should have cause to worry.

    Now bring on the hate mail, Sharks fans.

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    The Crowd Says (53)

    • Roar Guru

      January 4th 2013 @ 5:41am
      peeeko said | January 4th 2013 @ 5:41am | ! Report

      any chance of luke lewis playing 6 and carney moving to 7? they have heighnington, graham,tupou, gallen and bukuya in the back row so maybe lewis could be better used a 6?

      • Roar Guru

        January 5th 2013 @ 10:10am
        MG Burbank said | January 5th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        Interesting idea peeeko, but ultimately one of the other backrowers will miss out to make way for Lewis. Cronulla need more creativity in the halves and Lewis won’t provide that.

    • Roar Guru

      January 4th 2013 @ 7:30am
      steve b said | January 4th 2013 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      Well yes we are all still here and the Mayan.s got it wrong , first happy new year to all the roarers looking forward to some great debate as usual throughout the year and may your team prosper . i went home to Parra fot the xmas break to see the relos and catch up with freinds ,i forgot how hot it can get in Sydney ,anyhow we cruised over to Cronulla for a couple of days holiday beside the beach what a top spot , i have always had a soft spot for the Sharks since we went over to help raise money for the save the sharks fund many moons ago and although we were from other teams , we were treated as if we were family great people top club . i think if their is any year that the Sharkies can give it a shot it’s this one , MG you would have to agree that they bought well and with Lewis their to take some of the defensive work of Gallen this will make a hell of a difference , i think if the Sharks can go through injury free they will be a force to be reckoned with come finals time . As for shutting down the suburban grounds i think the short sighted powers to be have got it horribly wrong and this will be their biggest mistake ever if it happens .

      • January 4th 2013 @ 9:21am
        Mals said | January 4th 2013 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        Happy new year Steve. I agreed on the Sharks, they have recruited well in the forwards. However, like MG says, I still think they are lacking a bit of strike power in the backs. An over reliance on Carney makes it easy for opposing teams to shut him down but Gordon, if he hits the ground running, could bag plenty of 4 pointers for them.

      • Roar Guru

        January 5th 2013 @ 10:11am
        MG Burbank said | January 5th 2013 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        Steve, I do agree that they’ve made some good acquisitions but those new players won’t solve their core problem- lack of class in attack, which is why they’ll again finish outside the top four and be dispatched by more creative teams in the finals, if they get there.

    • January 4th 2013 @ 7:46am
      JCVD said | January 4th 2013 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      I think you forget that with Nathan Gardiner at the back they are a much better team when he is playing. Scores tries, quick and is a genuine game breaker. I think the sharkies will definitely make the 8. Along with storm, broncos, cowboys, bulldogs, rabbits, knights and ill throw in a darky as the roosters. Like last year pretty hard to pick as I think there are a lot of other strong teams out there. But as always comes down to injuries…

      • Roar Guru

        January 5th 2013 @ 10:12am
        MG Burbank said | January 5th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        I’m not sold on Gardner yet, either. Every report coming out of Cronulla indicates Gordon is their first choice at fullback.

    • January 4th 2013 @ 8:30am
      jamesb said | January 4th 2013 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      Cronulla need to give Chad Townsend more of a chance in 2013. A young half with some potential, while with Robson he is steady, but is not going to win you games off his own back.

      Despite the fact they have signed Ryan and Gordon, I still think the Sharks have a lack of pace in the backline. But anyway, Sharks will be up there in 2013, especially with the forward pack they’ve got, and with Carney, De Gois and Gordon forming a nice spine

      Is that enough to finally win it in 2013? At this stage, probably not. They need some young players to step up.

      • January 4th 2013 @ 11:10pm
        max said | January 4th 2013 @ 11:10pm | ! Report

        With you on Chad Townsend, offers so much more than Robson. To his credit, Robson was fair to good in 2011, much better than I thought he’d so, just sort of steered the ship and let carney let off most of the fireworks. With Collin Best gone, Gordon should fill that centre spot. I reckon Garnder at the back is a lot more ellusive.

      • January 23rd 2013 @ 6:37pm
        really said | January 23rd 2013 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

        He basically won us the game against the Warriors last year. But then again, I would still like to see Townsend get the nod. He was solid last year, and the year before that. Being wasted in NSW cup.

    • January 4th 2013 @ 8:36am
      sledgeross said | January 4th 2013 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      Gardner, no thanks. Much rather Gordon at FB, he is as dynamic (when fully fit) as any fullback not eligible to wear Maroon. Gardnr can win you a game, but he can lose you one as well, and unfortuantely, hes probably lost more for the Sharks than won them.
      Robson is a good attacker, but needs people running of him. Both he and Carney are at their best running at the line. Young Townsend should get a shot at 7 later in the year at some point, but whether he is the answer Im not sure. I think he is like Scott Porter, soild rather than exceptional.
      For me, the problem was signing Heighington. I would assume, being an international now, he would be on decent coin, but to me teh Sharks already have a strong pack, and I dont think he is a better player than the likes of Bukuya etc. Still, with Lewis and Gallen missing at Origin time (probably) he will be an asset.

      • January 6th 2013 @ 12:44pm
        Luke M said | January 6th 2013 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

        Where have you been all these years? There’s no such thing as a player not eligible to wear maroon.

    • January 4th 2013 @ 8:41am
      eagleJack said | January 4th 2013 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Hard to argue with your thoughts MG.

      While I think the Sharks have the cattle to get the required 14+ wins to play finals football, their lack of halves will keep them from winning the title. Ask Des Hasler what he could have done with a top halves pairing last year. He has shown his intentions by inviting Thurston over for a “secret” tour of the Bulldogs setup. The Broncos jumped at the chance to sign Prince. A Prince/Wallace pairing has far more coaches sweating than Wallace/Norman.

      You need good halves to win a comp. And Cronulla don’t have that. As much as I would like to see it happen for their long suffering fans.

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