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Sharks buoyed by Dogs-style resurgence

By Steve Jancetic 23/02/2010 08:34:59 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla skipper Trent Barrett claims Canterbury's Lazarus-like resurrection as an NRL powerhouse has given the Sharks the belief that they too can put the horrors of 2009 behind them.

Barrett talked up the Sharks finals chances as the club finally found something to cheer about on Tuesday, with electronics company Hisense signing on as major sponsor for the next two season.

The loss of major backer LG was one of a string of off-field incidents to dog the club last year - when they also finished second-last on the ladder - but there was renewed optimism at Tuesday's press conference of better times ahead.

Barrett pointed to the Bulldogs resurgence from a drama-riddled wooden spoon in 2008 to finish second last year as proof that an immediate turnaround is possible.

"We want to make the semis - that's our biggest focus and I think we've got the team to do it," Barrett said.

"Our forward pack's pretty good on paper and we need some luck too, we need our senior blokes fit and we need the younger guys like our Ferguson's (Blake Ferguson) and our Stapo's (Nathan Stapleton) to kick on from where they left off last year.

"It's going to be a big effort to come from where we came from but you saw what the Bulldogs did last year - it's not unattainable for us."

Coach Ricky Stuart said support from the corporate world was indicative of the strides forward the club had taken from the depths of last year when there was talk the club was on the brink of folding.

Stuart said the never-say-die spirit showed through on the field as his injury-ravaged side did all it could to avoid the wooden spoon.

"You put a lot of other clubs in our position last year and that white towel would have been thrown in," Stuart said.

"The fact that we've got some faith being shown by a major corporation, there's good things happening in the club, it makes the players feel comfortable."

But just how comfortable Barrett wants to get is up in the air with the 32-year-old admitting retirement was a possibility when he comes off contract at the end of the season.

Entering his 15th season in the top grade, Barrett said his playing career may be coming to an end, but he also revealed he was desperate for one more crack at Queensland in this year's State of Origin series.

"I'd love to play in the Origin this year - it's something I thought we made a bit of ground in last year in game two and three," Barrett said.

"Beating them up there in Queensland was a big thing for us ... they've won four in a row now and we'd like to stop that.

On his playing future, Barrett said:

"I'll play it by ear - I'll be 33 at the end of the year so I'll probably see retirement as an option and playing again as an option - it's not something I'm really thinking about at the moment.

"I'll make that decision eight or ten rounds in and see how things are going."

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