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Todd Carney has shown he could be an Origin bolter after an outstanding comeback performance for Cronulla in the opening round of the 2012 Telstra Premiership, according to former NSW and Sharks captain Trent Barrett.

Carney was back to his best during the round one clash that saw the Sharks suffer a heartbreaking golden point loss to the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.

Barrett told he believes Cronulla have proven they are ready to make the most of their new recruits and Carney will be key to their success.

“I think Todd Carney was terrific,” Barrett said.

“A player like him gives a side a lot of confidence and we saw that the other night.

“From a New South Wales point of view we’d love to see him trouble free and incident free and certainly he’d help our cause as well.”

Along with Carney, new recruit Bryce Gibbs put in a dominant performance making 121 metres and 22 tackles in his 59 minutes against the Wests Tigers.

After watching their opening round, Barrett is convinced Cronulla have a good chance of making the top eight, as long as they remain injury free.

“I think they need a little bit of luck with injury,” he said.

“If they keep Carney on the field and [Paul] Gallen and [Isaac] De Gois and those sorts of guys, I think they can make the semi-finals and it’s going to be a good year for them.

“De Gois is a bit of an unheralded player. He’s a very smart player and his combination with Carney will be pretty important.”

The Sharks' loss was one of two games forced into extra time during a thrilling round of football – with the Knights the other team to go down in a golden point loss to the Dragons.

Cronulla now prepare to face Newcastle at Toyota Park on Sunday, with both teams desperate to earn their first competition points of 2012.

While Newcastle started the year as premiership contenders, Barrett believes the Sharks can overcome their more fancied rival and win their first game of the season in front of a massive home crowd.

“Their [Newcastle's] combinations are all pretty new around the ruck with [Danny] Buderus back and having Darius Boyd at fullback,” Barrett said.

“I think the Sharks can beat them in round two and it’s a game we’ll all look forward to watching.”

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