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.
Today I continue my series with the Sharks, with the premiership-winning team featuring five players.
Yes, I was intending to do this series in alphabetical order and halfway writing this I realised I was missing the Bulldogs’ squad. Rest assured, Dogs fans, your team is next.
1. David Peachey
One NSW cap, two-time fullback of the year winner
Peachey was a just a freakishly talented player who used his long legs to turn defences inside out with steps and fending people with his long arms. He could glide across the field so gracefully, he was calm under pressure, and he should have played more rep games.
2. Mat Rogers
11 caps for Australia, five for Queensland
He was a dual international who was an all-round winger and could score tries in very tight places. He also broke his father’s points record for the Sharks.
3. Steve Rogers (goal-kicker)
24 caps for Australia, four for NSW, lock of the year and Dally M winner
He was one of the finest centres to ever play the game. He had it all: flair, nice touch and speed. He is the greatest player to play for the Sharks.
4. Andrew Ettingshausen
25 caps for Australia, 27 for NSW, two-time centre of the year
Ettingshausen was one of the finest players of his era. He had deceptive pace, good hands, and strong defence. He was always the shining light even through the Sharks’ darker times.
5. Valentine Holmes
13 caps for Australia, five for Queensland
He is an incredible athlete with speed to burn and agility. He can find the try line as showcased in his five-try performance for Australia against Samoa. He was on the path to become an all-time great Sharks player before going to the NFL then later joining the Cowboys.
6. Brett Kimmorley
20 caps for Australia, ten for NSW, halfback of the year, Clive Churchill Medal winner
Kimmorley was an elite half but was always overshadowed by Andrew Johns. His short kicking game was brilliant and he was a master tactician.
7. Tommy Bishop
15 caps for Great Britain, RLW player of the year
Bishop revolutionised how Cronulla played. He was a cult hero who nearly propelled the Sharks to a grand final win.
8. Dane Sorensen
17 caps for NZ, prop of the year
At one stage he had the most caps for the Sharks. He gave great service for 12 years. He was the toughest player to wear a Sharks jersey.
9. Michael Ennis
Eight caps for NSW, two-time hooker of the year
Ennis resurrected his career with the Sharks. He was allowed to play like he wanted to and it paid dividends as he was a threat around dummy half. He had a great habit of putting big props over for tries close to the line.
10. Andrew Fifita
Seven caps for Australia, ten for NSW, ten for Tonga, two-timeprop of the year
Fifita on his day is one of the most destructive ball runners. His very large frame combined with his speed for a prop is unbelievable. His powerful fend makes him unstoppable at times. His man-of-the-match performance in Origin showcases his great ability. He should have won the 2016 Clive Churchill Medal.
11. Greg Pierce
Eight caps for Australia
Pierce was one of the fittest players to ever play. He captained his country and was a rock in defence.
12. Gavin Miller
Two caps for Australia, five for NSW, Man of Steel winner, two-time Dally M Medal winner, Rothmans Medal winner, RLW player of the year and three-time second-rower of the year
In his heyday, Miller was the most dangerous attacking weapon in league. His ball skills and flair tore teams apart. His play won him back-to-back Dally M Medals and a Man of Steel award. It’s a shame his play didn’t translate to State of Origin level.
13. Paul Gallen (captain)
32 caps for Australia, 24 for NSW, three-time lock of the year, two-time RLIF lock of the year, RLW player of the year, Wally Lewis Medal winner, Brad Fittler Medal winner
Gallen has been the heart and soul of the Sharks for the last ten years. He was an 80-minute player, the ultimate workhorse and an inspirational NSW captain. He may be despised by Queenslanders, but you have to admire his toughness and heart.
Bench: Wade Graham, Jason Stevens, Cliff Watson and Kurt Sorensen.
Graham gets the utility spot for being able to excel in the halves and second row, while Stevens, Watson and Sorensen provide great punch off the bench.
Their dynamic backs of Rogers, Ettingshausen and Holmes are all match winners on their day, especially the centre pairing of Ettingshausen and Rogers.
However, their greatest strength is their back row with Miller, Pierce and Gallen. All are 80-minute players who will make the all-time Sharks team very hard to beat and they can be more then happy to bring back the biff.
The thought of Ennis combining with Miller – who will then have the option to put away a rampaging Andrew Fifita – creates a real difficulties for opposition teams.
Can this Sharknado be stopped?