WIZ: Gutsy Sharks face an even bigger test this weekend

Gary Freeman Columnist

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    If Paul Gallen says it's okay... (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)

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    I’m still getting my head around the Sharks’ phenomenal first round win over the Titans but for mine, Monday night’s clash with the rampaging Rabbits at ANZ could be their season-definer.

    With so many distractions to disrupt their preparation, the men from Cronulla rode an ocean of emotion to outlast an impressive Gold Coast team and they took lots of heart from their big and noisy home crowd.

    Such heroics led to one of the finest wins in Cronulla’s history but they will find South Sydney an incredibly tough opponent this time around.

    Souths look the real deal to me and if somebody is going to bring down the Melbourne Storm, it could be the red and greens.

    They have a powerful player roster, finals experience from last year and an excellent coach who prepares them to the minute.

    Michael Maguire’s men are big and fast and they have loads of tries in their game.

    The potential is certainly there for a blowout result against the Sharkies but I am hoping the underdogs draw strength from last week and push them all of the way.

    Skipper Paul Gallen, as always, will be their key. He is one of the most inspirational leaders I’ve ever seen and even though he has been doing it extremely hard personally during this turbulent time, he is still capable of playing tremendous football.

    Obviously, Cronulla will have to find some sort of counter to the brilliant Greg Inglis. The Roosters couldn’t in round one and got clobbered.

    Souths’ hooker Isaac Luke was another who cut them to shreds. If he finds space from dummy half, it will not be a good night Sharks.

    I’m not brave enough to pick Cronulla to win this one – Souths look way too strong all over the park – but I’ll be cheering loudly for the underdogs.

    If they can string together some early wins, the big year many tipped them to have will become reality.

    The NRL has appointed Bruno Cullen as the club’s interim CEO. I’ve had a bit to do with Bruno over the years and he is a great bloke and a top operator.

    He will get the club’s internal works firing in no time. The man is a winner and Cronulla will love having him at the helm.

    I just hope sanity prevails and we soon hear an announcement that head coach Shane Flanagan is allowed to return to his job.

    He built this Sharks team from the ground up and should be there in the coach’s box as the season gets serious.

    Getting stood down for ‘mis-management’ is a farce.

    Everyone probably knows I am a massive fan of the Melbourne Storm. Their first-up win over the Dragons wasn’t their best football display but when you consider it came on the back of the early-season disruption of a trip to England and a tough win over Leeds, it held plenty of merit.

    I like them to make it two from two tomorrow night but they will have to be at their best to knock over the impressive North Queensland in steamy Townsville.

    The Cowboys will be riding high on the back of news that Jonathan Thurston has just re-signed with the club, virtually for life. This game will surely be the best of round two.

    Gary Freeman
    Gary Freeman

    Gary 'Wiz' Freeman is one of the great halfbacks in New Zealand rugby league history. Now an outspoken and popular media personality, he joined The Roar in 2012 as an expert rugby league columnist.

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    The Crowd Says (4)

    • March 15th 2013 @ 4:01am
      AndyMack said | March 15th 2013 @ 4:01am | ! Report

      Hey Wiz. Good call picking the sharks for a win as underdogs.

      I long for the days when the sharks were everyones 2nd fav team (prob pre- bird and gallen days)….

      Agree with all you said here, well done.

    • March 15th 2013 @ 6:19am
      Dean - Surry Hills said | March 15th 2013 @ 6:19am | ! Report

      Cowboys by 12.
      Bunnies by 18.

    • March 15th 2013 @ 7:44am
      Jim o said | March 15th 2013 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      Hey Wiz, I thought of you as a good commentator but how did the bunnies cut anyone to shreds, on the back of a 6-1 penalty count plus a few dropped balls the roosters would have struggled to contain the local ladies bowls team! Bunnies the real deal 2013 ? I think not.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/the-roar/id327174726?mt=8].

      • March 15th 2013 @ 9:59am
        BlakeW said | March 15th 2013 @ 9:59am | ! Report

        Agreed. The Bunnies beat a confused looking Roosters side on the back of an avalanche of soft penalties. They will run hot and cold from here as they have won both their grand finals already. If the Sharks play with the same attitude as last week it will not suprise me to see them win again.

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