sharks season preview

NRL expert Steve Green has put together his mammoth season preview for 2021. We’re running through every club, from his predicted wooden spooners to those he thinks will take out he premiership. Today it’s the Sharks season preview.

2020 recap

The Sharks’ 2020 performance was the definition of mediocre. The finished with a win/loss record of 10 and 10. They were 5/10 at home and 5 /10 away. Rounding out their mediocrity, they finished with a points differential of exactly 0. However, tellingly, they conceded 480 points. So despite scraping into the Top 8, they had the 11th worst defence in the competition.

With William Kennedy and Brayden Brailey at 1 and 9 they had two guys still finding their feet in the NRL. Moylan and Fifital were ordinary for the short periods of time they were on the park, both suffering from fitness issues. Wade Graham also had his worse season in a long time, with the veteran leader struggling for conditioning.

While I like Coach Morris, it seems like he still does not have the full respect of the dressing room. Former Coach Flanagan had the Sharks in top notch physical condition (admittedly in breach of the laws of the game at some stages) and rock-solid defence. If the Sharks are going to improve on their 2020 performance, their big forward pack must become a lot more mobile and well-conditioned.

Sharks season preview: Losses

Out of all the teams, the Sharks have the lowest amount of turnover. While guys like Bukuya and Sorensen have moved on, their best 17 from 2020 remains intact.

Sharks season preview: Gains

The only addition with experience is Aiden Tolman. The rugged journeyman provides the Sharks with a no-frills workhorse that will just go out and do his job. I think he is a great signing, as hopefully he can show the likes of Woods, Fifita, Hunt what is required to be a consistently solid NRL front rower for the better part of a decade.

Sharks season preview: Rookie radar

Luke Metcalf is a fast and talented half that has joined the Sharks via Manly. A schoolboy star that has had his progress stunted by injury, his trial form has been fantastic. Apparently, he is shaping up as a challenger for the fullback position, which is there to be taken from William Kennedy if he can stay healthy. He could prove to be the find of the season for the Sharkies.

Sharks season preview: Players to watch

Andrew Fifita turns 32 in June and while many have written him off, he looks to have a good pre-season. If he truly is injury free, he could still be one of the most damaging props in the game. He averaged just over 100 metres a game last year. Injury-free I am expecting him to get back up to the 150 mark and help Woods lead this pack around.

Similar to Fifita, Josh Dugan is another guy that has his fair share of critics. However, I thought his form at the end of the season was pretty good. He also battled injury and that could mean the former fullback star could be heading towards an early retirement. He is unsigned for 2022. If he has managed to get his body right, he is still one of the most dangerous ball runners in the competition. With Xerri out, he and Ramien have a chance to form a lethal centres combination.

We’ll stick with the theme of former great players that had poor 2020 season. Wade Graham needs to step up and take control of this team. If Dugan, Fifita and Graham can fire, then the Sharks will surprise a lot of people in 2021 and could be genuine contenders. If they perform like they did in 2020, then they are bottom 4 material. They are the most volatile team in the competition and how Graham plays will be crucial to their 2021 fortune.

Sharks season preview: Weaknesses

Conditioning and discipline. Both of these things stem from a senior playing group that has not taken charge since the loss of Paul Gallen. With Townsend, Moylan, Dugan, Johnson and Fifita, Graham has a whole host of experienced guys to help lead this club. If they fall in line and stick to the coach’s game plan, then the Sharks have the raw talent across the park to beat anyone on their day.

Sharks season preview: Strengths

Speed and power! Out wide, guys like Katoa, Ramien and Mulitalo are brilliant finishers. In the middle, Hamline-Uele, Talakai and Rudolf are powerhouses. If their experienced and highly paid playing group can stay relatively injury free, then they have all the components to finish in the top 8 and take a lot of beating in the finals.

Sharks season preview: Ladder prediction

11th

NRL season previews

Manly
Dragons
Bulldogs
Broncos
Knights

Storm
Souths
Warriors
Eels

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