How boring is the off season!
After an up-and-down 2018 season, the Sharks finished one game shy of the big dance and us Sharkies fans quickly turned our eyes 2019.
Grandpa Shark signed on for one final hurrah and hope abounded that 2019 would see a repeat of 2016. Since then, in what I feel is a somewhat of an understatement, all hell broke loose.
In no particular order, Valentine Holmes walked out on the club to do a “Jarryd Hayne” and attempt to play in the NFL, while coach, Shane Flanagan was deregistered, the club copped an $800,000 fine and still has a salary cap investigation hanging over it. Did I mention that they also lost a whole heap of money in 2018 and have no sponsors for 2019? Never a dull moment for the Sharks!
At least the Warriors decided to give us their best player with a year to run on his contract, despite having no replacement for him.
Check out all of our pre-season content:
2019 GAINS & LOSSES
Outs: Valentine Holmes (NFL), Jesse Ramien (Newcastle Knights), Edrick Lee (Newcastle Knights), Ricky Leutele (Toronto Wolfpack), Kurt Dillon (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Luke Lewis (retirement), Joseph Paulo (St Helens), James Segeyaro (released).
Ins: Josh Morris (Canterbury Bulldogs), Shaun Johnson (New Zealand Warriors)
LIKELY STARTING 17
(As per NRL.com)
1 Matt Moylan 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Josh Morris 5. Sosaia Feki 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Wade Graham* 12. Jayson Bukuya 13. Paul Gallen 14. Kurt Capewell 15. Ava Seumanufagai 16. Aaron Woods 17. Jack Williams
*Injured (estimated return round 9 – 12)
Fullbacks: William Kennedy
CTWs:, Aaron Gray, Isaac Lumelume, Bronson Xerri
Halves: Kyle Flanagan
Hookers: Blayke Brailey
Props: Billy Margoulias, Braden Uele, Cruz Topai-Aveai
Second Rowers: Briton Nikora, Scott Sorenson
One of the more intriguing things with John Morris being named as interim coach is his relationship with Cronulla’s young guns. He coached the 2017 NYC team featuring guys like Kyle Flanagan, Blayke Brailey, Billy Margoulias and Briton Nikora to the minor premiership (we don’t talk about what happened after that). This same group of players easily handled the step up to reserve grade last year (where they made the grand final).
I’m not sure if it’s me projecting or not, but I reckon we could see a few of the young guns play significant roles this season in first grade.
Teams they play twice: Titans, Cowboys, Eels, Panthers, Broncos, Storm, Dragons, Raiders, Warriors.
Teams they play once: Knights, Roosters, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Rabbitohs, Wests Tigers.
Bye Week: Round 12
On paper at least, Cronulla have a good start to 2019.
While three of their first four games are away from home, they are all against bottom eight teams from 2018 (Knights, Titans, Cowboys, Eels). They’ll have a tough stretch coming out of Origin period with Melbourne (Rd 17 – away), Warriors (Rd 18 – away), Cowboys (Rd 19 – home), Souths (Rd 20 – home), Penrith (Rd 21 – away) and St George (Rd 22 – home). But from then on they have five of their last seven games at home.
Andrew Fifita – (Price: $634,300, Position: FRF, 2018 Average: 68)
For those who took a gamble last year and started with Fifita in the brand new world of FRF (aka where did all my dual options go?), it worked out pretty well. Fifita finished 2018 as the leading FRF eligible player, which is not a bad effort considering he was struggling with an injury for a large chunk of the last season (resulting in him not training too much in the later part of the year). Barring an off-field related controversy (we can’t handle anymore….), he should once again be one of the premium guns in the game, not just at the Sharks. Set him and forget him.
Shaun Johnson – (Price: $603,000, Position: HFB, 2018 Average: 64)
For a team like Cronulla who always have plenty of go-forward, but struggle in the red zone, Johnson could be the key to unlocking their attacking potential. The great unknown, however, is how will he adjust to new personal and a new structure. There’s a school of thought out there that because he’s priced at his peak (approx. 64 PPG), he may have a slow start to the season and be able to be picked up at a discount later on. The counter to that, Cronulla have a relatively soft early draw. So there should be plenty of points available for the gun half.
However, of course it would be negligent of me not to mention that he has lost his dual status in 2019.
Matt Moylan – (Price: $483,500, Position: 5/8 / FLB, 2018 Average: 52)
A move (back) to full back gives Moylan a chance to relive his SuperCoach glory days. His pedigree at fullback is well known and given that he is priced at an average of approximately 52 PPG, there’s some value to be had if he can get back the 60 PPG odd that he averaged at Penrith. If he can take advantage of Cronulla’s early draw, he has the potential to start the season well.
Paul Gallen – (Price: $539,000, Position: 2RF, 2018 Average: 58)
Sorry Gal. You’ve been good to us, very good. But the time has come.
2018 saw his MPG and (perhaps more concerningly) base PPG drop. BUT. For a 107 year old, an average of 58 PPG is not too shabby; however, it is long way attached from the glory days. Oh the glory days….
Sadly and realistically, his minutes should fall further this year.
Kurt Capewell – (Price: $340,200, Position: 2RF / CTW, 2018 Average: 36) & Scott Sorenson – (Price: $347,800, Position: 2RF, 2018 Average: 37)
If either of them locks down an 80 minute edge role (and with Luke Lewis retired and Wade Graham injured they may both do so) they should provide great value.
Across the past two years, when he’s started in the second-row, Capewell has averaged 72 MPG and 45 PPG, which works out at approximately 50 PPG in an 80 minute role. At 50 ppg, he’ll make approximately $125,000. Delicious.
Sorenson on the other hand is priced at approximately a 37 PPG average, but when playing 80 mins in 2018 he averaged 53 PPG. If he can get close to 53 PPG he’ll make $145,000. Oh Mylanta.
Kyle Flanagan – (Price: $213,300, Position: 5/8 / HLB, 2018 Average: 38)
Flanagan was looking a likely prospect when it was announced that Holmes was departing. However, with the signing of Johnson, he falls back down the pecking order. It seems like the best he can hope for (barring injury of course) is a bench spot for round 1. He’ll have to use that as a platform to unseat Chad Townsend further into the season.
Briton Nikora – (Price: $168,100, Position: CTW/2RF, 2018 Average: n/a)
I’ll let you in on a little secret here. Over the last couple of years, Nikora has been groomed to take over Luke Lewis’s edge role. Coached by Morris in 2017 and now with a couple of pre-seasons with the top squad under his belt he is a smokey for a starting spot. A very enticing one at that.
Billy Magoulias – (Price: $168,100, Position: 2RF, 2018 Average: n/a)
Another one of the highly touted rookies, Magoulias is in the same boat as Nikora and has been groomed as Gal’s replacement. With Gallen still lacing up the boots, it may still be a season too early for him to be SuperCoach relevant. So greedy, Gal, geez!
Bronson Xerri – (Price: $168,100, Position: CTW, 2018 Average: n/a)
This kid can play. He would have played NRL last year except for the small fact he wasn’t old enough. His preferred position is centre, but there’s talk that he’s in the mix for a spot on the wing come round 1.
Check out all our other 2019 Club Previews below: