Rhys Sullivan previews the opening game of this year’s ANZAC round celebrations.
Cronulla Sharks vs Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Venue: Pointsbet Stadium
Date: Thursday, April 21, 7:50pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List Tuesday
Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aiden Tolman 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Braydon Trindall 15. Jack Williams 16. Royce Hunt 17. Andrew Fifita 18. Lachlan Miller 19. Mawene Hiroti 20. Matt Ikuvalu 21. Jesse Colquhoun 22. Kayal Iro 23. Thomas Hazelton 24. Franklin Pele
Dale Finucane misses this weeks clash as he sits in concussion protocol, with Cam Mcinnes making the start at lock. Briton Nikora returns from a Covid-enforced week off in the back row. Aiden Tolman starts at prop in replacement of the injured Braden Hamlin-Uele, with Royce Hunt joining the interchange. Cronulla has named Nicho Hynes to make his captaincy debut this week, deputising for Finucane.
Sea Eagles: 1. Reuben Garrick 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Christian Tuipulotu 6. Kieran Foran 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Toafofoa Sipley 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Taniela Paseka 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Andrew Davey 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Dylan Walker 15. Karl Lawton 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Kurt De Luis 18. Ben Trbojevic 19. Tolutau Koula 20. Jorge Taufua 21. Kaeo Weekes 22. James Roumanos 23. Viliami Fifita 24. Jacob Sykes
Just the one change for Manly this week, with Morgan Harper returning from Covid protocol, sending Tolutau Koula back to the reserves.
Referee: Gerard Sutton
ANZAC Round is a week steeped with history, and obviously, the clashes between the Roosters/Dragons and Storm/Warriors on the day itself draw the most attention. However, this Thursday night blockbuster could very easily be the game of the round.
The Sharks and Sea Eagles have been some of the best teams in this young competition. Cronulla’s loss to Melbourne last week was their first since Round 1, and they have done so without inspirational captain Wade Graham, who is yet to feature in 2022 as he recovers from an ankle injury.
Meanwhile for Manly, a slow start to the season has been forgotten as they’ve pulled out 4 consecutive wins of their own. The last 3 have been without reigning Dally M medalist Tom Trbojevic, who is still at least 2 more weeks away from returning from a knee injury.
Adding to the story of this season, the Sharks and Manly have a thrilling rivalry dating back to the 1973 NSWRL Grand Final. More recently these two played a thrilling semi final back in 2013, infamous for Manly players routinely being in front of referee Shayne Hayne without being penalised.
Manly have won 5 of the last 6 meetings with the Sharks, including a 40-22 win last year in the QLD bubble which saw Trbojevic bag a hat trick. With neither of those factors in play this season, it will be interesting to see if the Sharks can flip the script.
- Cronulla and Manly have 54 years of history against each other, but the Sharks have only ever beaten them 25 times.
- Gerard Sutton referees his 368th match, but only his second between the Sharks and Sea Eagles- his first came in last year’s fixture,
- The winner of this fixture is awarded the Steve Rogers Cup, named after the legendary Sharks centre who led Cronulla to the 1973 and 1976 NSWRL Grand Finals, both losses to the Sea Eagles.
- Brothers John and David Williams once squared off against each other in this fixture, coming in the 2012 season. Despite being in the competition at the same time between 2008 and 2012, it was just the second and final time the two wingers played each other.
Sea Eagles by 4.
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