Stuart welcomes Sharks' week off - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stuart welcomes Sharks' week off

By Liam FitzGibbon 15/09/2008 06:03:14 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart is confident a two-week break will prove beneficial to the Sharks and won't halt the significant momentum they've built going into the NRL finals.

The Sharks were expecting a semi-final showdown with the Sydney Roosters after their 36-10 qualifying final win over Canberra on Saturday but earned a week off after the Warriors upset first-placed Melbourne.

They will now face either the Storm or Brisbane in the third week of finals and Stuart said the break would give a host of players the chance to shake off some niggling injuries.

"I'd rather have it, so would any football team at this time of the year," Stuart said of the week off.

"It's just a matter of using the week wisely.

"We do have a few niggling injuries and if we use it wisely enough it will be a benefit more so than a hindrance."

The Sharks win over the Raiders at Toyota Stadium was their fourth in a row and continued the side's strong late-season run.

But Test coach Stuart warned his side would need to pick up exactly where it left off when in the preliminary final in a fortnight.

"We've spoken about having momentum moving into the semis and now we've got that," Stuart said.

"Now we've just got to continue to hold the form and be consistent - that's the important part."

Stuart said the Warriors' win over the Storm "wasn't a great shock", and believed it was further evidence the premiership was far more than a two-horse race this season.

Unlike last year when Melbourne and Manly clearly dominated for most of the season, Stuart said this year's title race had been blown wide open well before this weekend's results.

"I think it's been wide open, you've only got to look at the form throughout the season and the teams that have beaten one another," Stuart said.

"We keep on saying it's a wide open comp but people are probably actually starting to believe it now."

Stuart said it would be "stupid" to write off the Storm yet and admitted he had no preference as to which side the Sharks faced in the preliminary final.

"No preference at all ... you don't expect it to be easy at this stage of the season," Stuart said.

"It won't bother us it's just a matter of turning up and playing our best game."

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