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Sharks still looking for belief

Steve Jancetic 25/03/2011 08:07:42 PM Comments (0)

They may have battered the NRL premiers, but Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan doesn't believe his side realises just how good it is yet.

"I don't know if it's clicked as yet - it clicked on Monday night but I don't know if it's clicked inside their heads how good they could be," Flanagan said ahead of Saturday's clash against Penrith.

"Hopefully that will unfold over the next couple of weeks. That's something I've been trying to get into them, instil a bit of belief in them that they are a good team and they can play.

"That's something that we need to work on."

And that starts at Centrebet Stadium on Saturday night, with the Sharks still on a high after their shock 16-10 win over St George Illawarra.

While the short turnaround would normally be a concern for coaches, Flanagan said the meeting with the Panthers couldn't come soon enough as he looked to build on the momentum generated by Monday night's victory.

"At the moment they're all looking forward to getting out and playing again," Flanagan said.

"They really enjoyed Monday night and the feeling is they all want to get out there and play like that again."

That won't be easy for a forward pack which put everything it had into rumbling over the Dragons.

Flanagan admitted to giving his troops plenty of recovery time this week, but the Panthers should present a formidable challenge with a monstrous pack containing Sam McKendry, Tim Grant, Trent Waterhouse and veteran hard man Petero Civoniceva.

Grant said the Panthers were feeling the positive vibe as well after bouncing back from a demoralising first-up loss to Newcastle to beat Parramatta.

"It didn't shock us or anything," Grant said of the turnaround.

"That's what we trained all off season to do so the week before shocked us more than the win last week to be honest.

"We've been confident the whole time in what we can do, we just had to do it.

"Everyone was looking for answers, we didn't know what went wrong the first week, that's why it was so disappointing."

While the forward battle shapes as an absorbing contest, the clash between the rival No.7s could be more game-defining, with Sharks playmaker Wade Graham going up against his former club and teammate Luke Walsh.

Flanagan praised Graham's mature display against the Dragons, with his organisational skills and controlled kicking game giving hope to long-suffering Sharks fans.

"It's hard - he's only 21, he's new to the club and he's got to push some experienced players around there in (Paul) Gallen, Jeremy Smith, (Kade) Snowden and (Luke) Douglas," Flanagan said.

"That's one of the reasons we got Wade to the club because we thought he could do it, he wanted to do it."

The Sharks were preparing for dual international Timana Tahu to be rushed into Penrith's starting side, with the former NSW Origin winger having started training with the side this week.

Flanagan predicted his Tahu's inclusion would see Michael Jennings switched to the right side of the field, with Tahu lining up on his preferred left.

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