Sharks players look on dejected in their semi-final loss to the Cowboys.

Sharks vice-captain Wade Graham couldn't think of a better way to kick off the 2016 season then taking on the team that embarrassed them and dumped them out of the competition last year, the premiers North Queensland Cowboys.

Heading to Townsville for the Round 1 clash – the scene of the Sharks' 39-0 demoralising defeat in the semi finals last year – Graham said the club is out to fulfil the positives that have come from the months since. 

"It'll be good to go straight back up there. Obviously everyone was disappointed with how last year panned out. We ran into a red hot Cowboys team up there and obviously they went on that run to win the competition," Graham told NRL.com.

"There's no better way – probably the best way to start our year. Just to head straight back up there and roll the dice again. 

"We need the results early to get off to a good start and hopefully we can transfer all we have done in the pre-season into a result in Townsville. We're under no illusion how tough it is going to be up there so we're looking forward to it."

The Sharks were pushing hard for a top four berth in 2015 before falling at the final hurdle of the regular season and Graham believes they can't rely on past success if they are to make a fist of the upcoming year.

"We feel like through last year that we learnt a lot about ourselves. But last year is last year too," Graham said. 

"We can't rest on that. It's up to us to realise that we have to keep going. We have to keep challenging ourselves."

Graham himself could hardly contain his excitement over the footy being back within the week.

Proving that the players are just as excited as the fans for the NRL's return Graham said the week between the trials and preparing for Round 1 was one of relief, knowing full well the pre-season is finally over. 

"Everyone is talking about footy again and everyone knows how close it is. This week traditionally before we start preparing for Round 1 is just exciting," Graham said.

"You're just ready to go. You know the pre-season is behind you and you're just getting ready for Round 1. 

"Then there are 25 rounds after that. We're back on, man! It's good. Footy is just around the corner, you can feel it."