Jack Bird scores for Cronulla against South Sydney.

Drawing comparison from how South Sydney defied 43 years of history to win the premiership last season, coach Michael Maguire has lodged his premiership preferences in favour of the Sharks after his team copped a 28-12 belting by the Shire-based club. 

 

Almost 12 months to the day since John Sutton's "yeah the boys" was heard by the 83,833 in attendance and millions watching following South Sydney's grand final victory last year, Maguire has backed the Sharks to do the same on their path to securing their maiden premiership 48 seasons in the making. 

"I see Cronulla has a fair bit of belief there amongst their players and it would be great to see a club like that go on and do something special – if they believe they can then they will," Maguire said.

"I see a team in Cronulla which I really hope they can go on and win the grand final to be honest. I think a club who hasn't had a taste of what we were lucky enough to have last year [deserves it].

"It's not through luck either, it's through hard work, but just sitting there and watching their fans and how happy they are to see their team aspire to dream I really hope they go on and take the opportunity because they're a real credit. 

"What they have been through, to see that club earn a chance at doing what we did – good on em'."

Meanwhile Maguire defended claims of a player burnout contributing to their end of season woes where they were beaten convincingly in their final four games.

Rewind back to March when South Sydney were just about untouchable Maguire refused to accept the club's off-season caught up to them in end – considering they travelled to Arizona for an Altitude Camp, Auckland for the Nines and St Helens for the World Club Challenge. 

"I actually thought the altitude training camp was really, really good for us. When you take the season in as a whole we actually had a lot of injuries through broken bones which you can't control," he said.

"Whether it was through Adam Reynolds and Glenn Stewarts broken thumbs, John Sutton's broken leg they're just excuses. Our players this year have reached targets they have never reached before in the way they train. 

"Greg's [Inglis] is a great example he's probably played more football than any rugby league player running around at the moment. If you watch him at training he's jumping out of his skin he just loves playing footy."