With the season opener just around the corner, we look at how the Cronulla Sharks will go in 2019.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Shaun Johnson (NZ Warriors), Josh Morris (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Braydon Trindall
Kurt Dillon (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Trent Hodkinson (Manly Sea Eagles), Edrick Lee (Newcastle Knights), Ricky Leutele (Toronto Wolfpack), Luke Lewis (retired), Joseph Paulo (St Helens RLFC), Jesse Ramien (Newcastle Knights), James Roumanos (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Valentine Holmes (NFL)
Knights (A), Titans (H), Cowboys (A), Eels (A), Roosters (H)
WHAT TO EXPECT
Former Cronulla player John Morris has a lot to prove in his first year as head coach after Shane Flanagan was de-registered indefinitely during the off-season. The Sharks also lost sponsors (they recently picked up Ace Gutters Durakote as a front-of-jersey sponsor) and their star fullback Valentine Holmes to the NFL. It is important for the Sharks to work on consistency and have the ability to put on a full 80-minute performance, helping them gain the necessary momentum to carry them through the year. Cronulla’s roster is quite strong; experience mixed with youth, which if gelled together correctly, could make the Sharks the team to beat in 2019.
Matt Moylan will be a key player for Cronulla in 2019, returning to fullback in Holmes’ absence. The 27-year-old is looking forward to being in the fullback role and will be looking for consistency. A goal of his for the year is to make sure he is on the field each week, saying “I haven’t strung together a full season playing every game since 2014.”
Moylan struggled in the opening weeks of 2018 but put together some strong performances later on. Knowing and being familiar with his role will provide assistance in his search for consistency; it’s a key element in gaining momentum early, something the Sharks have struggled with in the past. He is a key player for Cronulla, and his shift to fullback will be a significant move.
Despite losing a handful of strong players at the end of 2018, the Sharks managed to recruit Shaun Johnson and Josh Morris. Both Johnson and Morris were strong players for their previous clubs, and will be valuable assets to Cronulla in the coming years. The Cronulla spine will once again shift with Johnson joining Cronulla junior Chad Townsend in the halves, while former Bulldog Morris will join Josh Dugan in the centres. James Segeyaro has also returned to the club on a one-year contract.
For the most part, Cronulla has no reason to complain about their 2019 draw. Their bye round is in perfect timing for the first game of the State of Origin series. If any Sharks players are selected, they will only be absent from their July match against the Broncos. However, the Sharks have plenty of up-and-coming players with first grade potential that could be pulled in if necessary. With a few exceptions, the Sharks’ draw is predominantly filled with Saturday and Sunday matches, giving them optimal turn-around time in between matches.
Top Tryscorer – Josh Morris
Top Pointscorer – Shaun Johnson
Club Player of the Year – Matt Prior
WHERE WILL THE CRONULLA SHARKS FINISH?