Sam Tagataese makes a run against the Warriors in Round 21.

The Sharks may be without captain Paul Gallen and veteran Chris Heighington for this weekend's local derby against the Dragons but firebrand prop Sam Tagataese has backed his fellow forwards to fill the void left by the absent duo. 

Looking towards improving himself as well – after he was reduced to 24 minutes and 41 metres against North Queensland in Round 1 – Tagataese hopes the Sharks can minimise their 11 errors from last Saturday night.

Considering the workload the injured Gallen and suspended Heighington bring to the squad, Tagataese is under no illusion of how tough a derby it will prove to be. 

"It's unfortunate for us to lose them but it's good for the guys who are filling in to step up. For the likes of us other forwards it's about trying to fill those roles and just provide good solutions for our losses," Tagataese told NRL.com.

"We need to be aware of our errors and other little things like that because they can quickly add up and it punishes the team. The boys are aware of what they need to do. 

"They don't do unfortunate things intentionally. Sometimes when they're trying to help the team it ends up being the cause to a lack of discipline."

Pointing out the Sharks' lapses of concentration proved costly in their six-point loss to the Cowboys, the 29-year-old prop was adamant however that the positives outweighed the negatives when analysing the result.

"We defended well but it was probably our lack of discipline which disrupted our game and sort of let them into the game. Other than that the combinations of our two new halves [James Maloney and Chad Townsend] is getting better," Tagataese said.

"Based on how we played the culture of the team is still there. We just need to get these combinations right. 

"It was our first game of the season, but it was so fast too. It felt like a semi-final game. It was as if we had been playing the past couple of months considering the speed of it."

As for the derby itself Tagataese isn't expecting his opposite Dragons forwards to shy away from their huge Sunday afternoon clash, even with Paul McGregor not naming Joel Thompson (corked glute) to play. 

"Oh man, the local derby is always a good game," Tagataese said.

"It's a good challenge for us. The Dragons have big engines as well. They play long minutes and I guess all the boys are looking forward to that."