North Queensland coach Paul Green believes the bookies have it wrong for Saturday's do-or-die blockbuster against the Sharks at 1300SMILES Stadium.
Cronulla is the only team to have beaten the Cowboys twice this year, their first victory a streak-busting 24-18 win in Townsville, while in Round 22 the Sharks monstered a North Queensland pack minus Matt Scott in a 30-18 win.
Saturday night's showdown in Townsville in front of an expected sell-out crowd, the Cowboys go in deserved favourites after showing solid form in their narrow loss to Brisbane last week, but Green believes Cronulla should hold the 'favourites' tag.
"They probably deserve to be favourites in this game," he said on Tuesday.
"They've beaten us twice throughout the year, they have knocked off the Roosters and done well against top four teams. They are a tough team; they play a tough brand of footy and have some players in good form."
One of those players is veteran hooker Michael Ennis, who escaped suspension for a high shot on Chris McQueen late in their elimination final win.
Ennis earned man-of-the-match honours for his side's 18-point comeback over the Cowboys in Round 16, controlling the speed of the game with his kicking and in the ruck, along with dishing out three try assists.
In Round 22 it was a workmanlike performance featuring 47 tackles and five kicks.
"Michael Ennis has had a great season there and has probably been in career-best form and he's got players playing with confidence around him too," Green said.
"They are a good side. They have some good players in key positions."
Green expects star five-eighth Michael Morgan to be better for the run after showing a lack of polish in spending a couple of weeks out of the game, while in team news rugged utility Rory Kostjasyn gets a provisional promotion.
Kostjasyn played both games against Cronulla this season and is named in the No.14 jersey, which demotes Ray Thompson, who was last week's late inclusion, to 18th man.
"I know I have to name a team on Tuesday but it's going to take more than 17 players to finish the season off, so Ray has been named there; he played well (last week)," Green said.
"I will make a decision later in the week about which way I will go based on how I think we need to play. Different players bring different things to the team. I was happy with the way Ray went but Rory has done a good job for us too."