Sharks focused on Knights, not GF replay
Sharks players say their focus is solely on this Saturday's clash against the Newcastle Knights despite a grand final replay against the Storm set for the following week.
Cronulla have started the year 2-2 and know they can't afford a slip up at this stage of the season given the Storm and Roosters have already jumped two wins clear after the first four rounds.
While it would be easy to have one eye on the game down in Melbourne, back-rower Wade Graham said that wasn't the case.
"I haven't even thought about that so it hasn't been an issue here. We're just focusing on Newcastle. I haven't even thought of Melbourne once and I'm sure they haven't even thought about us once," Graham said.
"It's important in the early part of the season that you take the most out of each week and get those wins because you look at Melbourne and the Roosters and they're starting to skip ahead already with their wins.
"It's important for teams like us who have put a couple of losses up to keep grinding and keep getting those wins."
The Knights have shown a lot of improvement in 2017 compared to the side that won just one game last season, although they are coming off an embarrassing 40-0 loss to the Panthers.
Graham said it was understandable for a young team like the Knights to have those sorts of performances and expected them to come out hard against the defending premiers on Saturday afternoon.
"I think they've been playing really well and with lots of energy and lots of enthusiasm," he said.
"They were probably a bit disappointed with their performance against Penrith.
"I think they've come out with a really good attitude this year and they're really working hard for each other and they're playing with a lot of energy so they're not going to beat themselves. It's up to us to put in a good performance and match their enthusiasm and energy.
"You can tell by the way they've come out this pre-season that there have been some adjustments with where they're taking their footy club. You can see it in their attitude and their energy and the way they're playing for each other.
"Of course with the young squad that they have, there will be games like the Penrith [loss] where things don't go right and the other team capitalises, but all in all I think it's been a positive start for Newcastle."
The Sharks thrashed the Knights twice in 2016 to the tune of 98-4 across both games, but experienced prop forward Matt Prior said history would count for little this time around.
"There's not much you can take out of that because that was last year. The Knights are a different team this year and already they've won one game and they're playing a lot better footy than they were last year," Prior said.
He also shared Graham's view that the grand final replay wouldn't be discussed until well after the Knights game had finished.
"We can't start thinking about that game. We're still two weeks away so we've got to get the job done against the Knights," he said.
"If we start thinking about that game now then I'm sure the Knights will pull our pants down and beat us. We've just got to worry about one week at a time."