Flanagan to name three new faces amid injury woes
Young Cronulla back-rower Jack Williams is set to make his NRL debut this Sunday against Penrith, as Sharks coach Shane Flanagan looks to cover the loss of three key forwards.
Williams is one of three players who will be making their first appearance of the 2018 Telstra Premiership, with regular starters Paul Gallen (knee injury), Wade Graham (hamstring) and Andrew Fifita (knee) all unavailable.
Former North Queensland prop Braden Uele - he played one game for the Cowboys - will make his Sharks debut, while Scott Sorensen will play his first game of the season after appearing in five games for the club over the past two years.
Williams is the only member of the unheralded trio who is yet to play an NRL game.
All three played strongly in Newtown's 58-4 mauling of Newcastle in the Intrust Super Premiership on Saturday in Cessnock.
Another to put in a solid game was winger Sione Katoa, who has recovered from a broken jaw in his NRL debut in round one. But Flanagan wants to give Katoa another week in reserve grade.
Flanagan will give back-rower Luke Lewis every chance to recover from a corked knee before making a call on whether he will line up against the in-form Panthers.
Williams, Sorensen and Uele will be champing at the bit to prove their worth, albeit at the expense of three senior players - all current or former NSW and Australian representatives.
Uele, 19, played trial games for the Sharks in February. He has the size to hold his own - 191cm, 115kg - and boasts good footwork.
Sorensen, 25, is a distant cousin of the former New Zealand internationals and Cronulla stalwarts in the late 1970s and early 80s, Kurt and Dane Sorensen. He returned to the Sharks this season after spending 2017 with the Raiders.
Williams has come to the Shire via the Raiders, where he was the club's NYC Player of the Year in 2016.
Flanagan will have to find a new skipper for the Panthers as both co-captains in Gallen and Graham are in the casualty ward.
Lining up for Penrith against his former club for the first time will be two-time premiership-winning halfback James Maloney.