Cronulla captain Paul Gallen says the Sharks' recent run of good form counts for nothing if the team doesn't kick on to achieve something in the 2015 finals series.
From languishing in the bottom four mid-season, Cronulla have won eight of the past nine to be on the brink of a top-four finish – making statements with wins over premiership heavyweights including the Roosters and Cowboys twice each – but Gallen said he's definitely not getting excited just yet.
"When you look at the last couple of years – we made the semis two out of the last three years but everyone remembers last year was pretty ordinary," Gallen said.
"But we've done nothing yet mate, if we were to lose every game from here on in we wouldn't even make the semis so we've done nothing."
Gallen said it was important to temper the excitement of younger players in the squad without dampening their enthusiasm.
"For young blokes, you need them to have confidence so you don't want to drum it out of them. You just want to let them know they've got to keep working hard. A week in rugby league is a very long time," he said.
"We've got a good mix here. We've got some old heads here that know what to do, know how to get things done on the field, then these young blokes that just have a crack and a lot of times this year things have come off for them which is a positive for us.
"We've got to keep that confidence up in them but we can't let them get overawed. I don't think they'll get overawed but we can't let them get overconfident."
Gallen pointed out critics were beginning to write off defending premiers South Sydney until their powerful away win on Thursday night against co-ladder leaders North Queensland.
"They've made a statement to the premiership apparently. If we were to go out this weekend and not play well, not perform, all of a sudden we're not in a good spot so it's all about working hard and keeping our head down."
Gallen thought the Cowboys seemed tired in that defeat after a short turnaround from their loss in Cronulla last Saturday.
"The Cowboys have had a good year, I feel they're maybe a little bit tired with the way they're playing, particularly with us last week, they had to back up on a real short turnaround so it would have been really hard for them."
While critics continue to be surprised by Cronulla's surge up the ladder, Gallen reiterated his view that their ladder position was only now starting to reflect the quality of the side.
"If you look at our first four games of the season, bar the Melbourne game [in Round 3] we probably could have won the rest of them. We go back to the intercept here [at Remondis against the Titans in Round 4] with two minutes to go, the charge-down here against the Warriors [in Round 9], we could have scored a try with a minute to go against Canberra Round 1 so we've had a pretty consistent year to be honest with you, I just think we're turning them into wins now and getting to where we should be on the ladder.
"Physically we're good, mentally we're in a good spot, we just know if we perform to our potential each week we'll win probably all our games.
"We don't have a superstar to get us out of trouble like a Thurston or an Inglis. We've got 17 guys that need to play to our potential every week and if we do that we'll win."