The Cronulla Sharks may have just one premiership in 2016 but don’t be fooled to think they are void of talent as they have produced many great players.
Cronulla coach John Morris insists his team fears no one ahead of the NRL’s finals as the Sharks go in search of a big scalp before October.
The 2016 premiers are now guaranteed a spot in the finals after repelling a Warriors comeback on Sunday night, meaning the NRL’s top-eight teams cannot change.
It comes after Morris banned his players from talking about the finals late last month as he felt his team’s season slipping away.
Now comes the next challenge: Proving they can be a legitimate threat come October with a final fortnight litmus test to end the regular season.
The Sharks have last year’s two grand finalists to finish, beginning with the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night before hosting Canberra in the last round.
“The opposition is only going to get harder and harder as we go on,” Morris said.
“We can do something solid this year if we continue to show up with that character and the defensive resilience.
“We will be a tested this week against the Roosters, but we need to be when going up against the big sides.
“Defensively for me we need to go up a few gears. And also stop putting pressure on ourselves with errors in the back end of the field.”
But regardless, Morris insists his team’s 0-6 record against fellow top-eight teams won’t faze his side.
Former captain Paul Gallen made a point to publicly raise the feats of Canberra’s 1989 side last week, who won the title despite not beating a fellow finals-bound side in the regular season.
The current Cronulla team also have plenty of youngsters hitting form at the right time, with Siosifa Talakai and Toby Rudolf two of their best on Sunday night.
Shaun Johnson also remains in career-best form, having still set up the most tries in the NRL with 22, despite missing three games through injury.
“I know we’ve got the players and they believe in each other. They genuinely don’t fear other oppositions,” Morris said.
“We’ve earned the right to have a crack now.
“If we give ourselves a chance to play and we’re nice and tidy looking after the ball … I know we’ve got the points in our team to do some damage.
“Our biggest challenge this year has been defensively. If we can tighten up there which we did tonight it gives us a chance to compete on the big stage.”