Robson pumped for Barba debut

Sharks halfback Jeff Robson is counting down the days until he gets to show fans Cronulla's new playmaking combination with big off-season signings Ben Barba and Michael Ennis at Remondis Stadium on Sunday night.

Their opponents Canberra will also be sporting a new-look 'spine' of their own with Sam Williams or Mitch Cornish to partner off-season buys Blake Austin and Josh Hodgson.

The 32-year-old Robson is heading into his 11th NRL season and fourth in the Shire, and said he is excited to begin his combination with dynamic ex-Bronco and Bulldog Barba.

"I'm really looking forward to getting in and combining with him in the early couple of rounds," Robson told NRL.com. 

"Hopefully we can build some confidence and play some good footy."

Robson's partnership with Barba will likely bear a number of similarities to the way he combined with Todd Carney during their time together in Cronulla, when Robson's calm control of the game often proved the perfect foil to the exciting and unpredictable Carney.

The experienced halfback is hoping that this can once again be the case with 2012 Dally M Medal-winner Barba.

"Yeah that's the plan anyway, he is definitely a good runner with the football and dangerous when he's got the ball in his hands so I think that's what we'll be trying to do," Robson said.

Robson, who has played 66 games for the Sharks, will also be linking up with a new hooker, in the form of gritty ex-Bulldogs captain Michael Ennis.

"Yeah really excited about playing some footy with him," he said. 

"He's a great player and he really steers the forwards around in the middle of the park really well so that makes my job a lot easier."

Meanwhile, as Robson gets comfortable with a couple of new teammates on Sunday, his opposites, the Raiders, will also be testing out some new playmakers.

Robson is wary of the young Raiders halves combination that looks likely to feature Mitch Cornish at halfback.

"Cornish is a young talented player coming through, he's got a nice skill set and Blake Austin is very dangerous when he's got the footy in his hand," he said.

"So we're definitely going to have to play some good footy ourselves and really steer the team around the park because if we don't do that they can really put some points on you."

Sunday evening's match will also mark the return of coach Shane Flanagan from an almost year-long suspension, and like the rest of his side Robson is delighted to have their mentor back in charge of the side.

"He brings a lot of structure and stability to the club," Robson said. "Just having him back really provides that around the boys and gets everyone moving in the right direction.

"He's really driven and he wants the boys to do really well this year, as do I, and I'm really looking forward to it."

Fans planning to attend the match at Remondis Stadium on Sunday are encouraged to use Sydney trains and a free shuttle bus service offered by the Sharks.

Train travel will be included in the cost of tickets to all Sharks' home games this year with shuttle buses running to the stadium from local stations.

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