Jeff Robson believes the future is bright for the Sharks, with a number of promising youngsters finding their way in first grade. Credit: Grant Trouville. Copyright: NRL Photos.
The Cronulla Sharks’ tumultuous year will be remembered for all the wrong reasons when fans look back on season 2014.
With off-field drama constantly an arm's length away for Cronulla, their all-important spine has suffered as a consequence. With Todd Carney sacked, Issac De Gois moving to Parramatta mid-season and John Morris’ season-ending neck injury it has been up to halfback Jeff Robson to lead the Sharks into battle week-in, week-out.
Robson admitted it has been hard to maintain any consistency despite producing an impressive seven line break assists and nine try assists in his 13 games this season.
"It has been a tough year to say the least. We have had a lot of injuries and a lot of other stuff that's gone on and it is definitely hard to get that consistency when the team changes so much," Robson told NRL.com.
"We have had a few good young kids come in and out of the team who have done a great job for us and that's something we have to look forward to next season and onwards. We have all this talent coming through so hopefully with them getting games now it will benefit us in the long run."
With the emergence of five-eighth Fa'amanu Brown, hooker Michael Lichaa and utility back Valentine Holmes, Robson has been happy to be the level-headed veteran in the team, though he was happy to get a few weeks to strike up a halves combination at training with Brown before the untimely sacking of Carney.
"Fa'amanu trained with us a bit in the pre-season and obviously he can play hooker and slot in sort of everywhere, he's quite talented in that respect, but during the season I didn't spend a great deal of time training with him but [thankfully] I had a couple of weeks training with him before he made his debut," Robson said.
"[As for] Lichaa, he has been playing well over the past couple of weeks. It took him a little while to get used to the speed of the game and the style of play but he's starting to play some really good footy now and Valentine, well he is going to be a great player. The more games he gets the better he is going to get so we're looking forward to getting some games under all their belts."
With the young-guns primed this weekend to take on the Warriors across the ditch, the Sharks and Robson will take great delight in knowing they accounted for them in Round 5 to the noise of a 37-0 flogging, ultimately drawing a close to Matthew Elliott’s time as head coach of the Auckland-based outfit in the process.
However with the Sharks coming off a last-start 20-point loss to the Parramatta Eels they will need to find the solution to their slow starts quickly if they are to account for the eighth-placed Warriors on Sunday afternoon, considering Jarryd Hayne ran riot in the first 15 minutes of their game last weekend for an early 10-0 lead.
"I think a few of the games we have actually won and many that we have lost in the back end of this season have been because of our poor starts. We have spoken a lot about it so hopefully we can address that this weekend and get off to a good start and hopefully play well against the Warriors," Robson said.
"They are a great team and they will put a lot of points on us if we don't turn up to play. We played some decent footy against them last time we played them but in saying that we played some decent footy last week against the Eels as well.
"It all just comes down to our poor execution in different parts of the game. We could've scored a lot more points then what we did. It could have been a whole different game."
With the Sharks pinned to the bottom of the competition ladder on for-and-against, the club is now yearning to avoid the wooden spoon in their final five games of this season. Their objective is clear – avoid their first last place finish since 1969.
"It has been spoken about it the past few weeks now and it is something that I don't really want to get," Robson said. "I know a lot of the other boys feel the same so we'll be doing everything we can in the latter part of this season to make that not happen."