Here is all you need to know about the Cronulla Sharks' 2019 Telstra Premiership draw.
Teams they play twice: Titans, Cowboys, Eels, Panthers, Broncos, Storm, Dragons, Raiders, Warriors.
Teams they play once: Knights, Roosters, Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Rabbitohs, Wests Tigers.
Day-by-day breakdown: Thursday - Four, Friday - Four, Saturday - Nine, Sunday – Seven.
Five-day turnarounds: 2 (Rd 6, Rd 14).
Kick-off: After falling one game short of the grand final in 2018, Cronulla have, on paper, a relatively easy start to the Telstra Premiership with all four matches against teams which missed out on last season’s playoffs. However, they have just one game at home in the first month of the season.
Five key matches
Storm (Round 8, Shark Park): Arguably the most bitter rivalry in the NRL over the past five years, this is one meeting the Sharks always get up for. The Stormhave been the competition's most dominant team from 2012 to now, with four grand finals and two titles in seven seasons. The Sharks hold no fear though, downing the Storm in the 2016 decider for their maiden premiership and triumphing in plenty of spiteful clashes to hold a 5-3 winning record over the past eight games. The Sharks beat the Storm twice last year but won't forget the way Melbourne unceremoniously dumped them out of the finals.
Dragons (Round 11, Jubilee Oval): Who doesn't love a local derby? This clash took on a more sombre significance last year with the passing of popular retired Dragon and Sharks Lance Thompson and the 2019 edition will likely feature players with experience at both clubs including Josh Dugan, Matt Prior and Tyson Frizell. The Sharks lost both clashes last season inside the opening six rounds – the 40-20 round six loss was their worst of the season.
Roosters (Round 5, Shark Park): The Roosters are another club, like the Dragons, that downed Shane Flanagan's men twice last year. The Sharks back themselves as a side that lifts for the big games and fears no club. Their 28-10 round five loss was their second-biggest of the year after the above-mentioned Dragons loss but it wouldn't have stung as much as going down 21-12 in the first v fourth qualifying final.
Panthers (Round 6, Shark Park): So much of the talk heading into 2018 – certainly ahead of Cronulla v Penrith games – revolved around who got the better out of the James Maloney-Matt Moylan swap. In the final wash-up you'd have to say both club profited fairly evenly but it was certainly the Sharks that finished up with the head to head bragging rights after downing Penrith three times from three starts and ending Penrith's season in the semi-finals.
Broncos (Round 7, Suncorp Stadium): A gritty Sharks side that prides themselves on winning the close games and the arm-wrestles will be stinging for some time after a pair of contentious narrow losses to Brisbane in quick succession. Both games featured uncharacteristic errors. In round 15 the Sharks fought back from an early 12-0 deficit to 16-all before a stunning Corey Oates put-down – from a pass Sharks fans will argue was forward – sealed it late. In round 20 Flanagan attempted to shift the blame onto the match officials for what he perceived as a series of errors against his team in the 12-10 loss but a missed conversion from right in front was just one of a series of uncharacteristic errors from within the team that proved disastrous.
Toughest stretch: Rounds 16-22. After getting their bye out of the way in the first of the bye rounds (in round 12) the Sharks come out of the Origin period with a pretty gruelling seven-week stretch that features six games against teams that finished in the top eight in 2018 (Broncos, Storm, Warriors, Rabbitohs, Panthers, Dragons) plus the Cowboys who should bounce back. The run also includes back-to-back trips to Melbourne and Wellington inside a stretch of three straight six-day turnarounds.
And another thing: After returning from New Zealand in round 18, the Sharks play five of their final seven games at Shark Park and don't have to hit the airport again, travelling no further than Penrith (round 21) and Leichhardt (round 25) in what should be a handy pre-finals freshen-up.
- Broncos 2019 draw snapshot
- Raiders 2019 draw snapshot
- Bulldogs 2019 draw snapshot
- Titans 2019 draw snapshot
- Sea Eagles 2019 draw snapshot
- Storm 2019 draw snapshot
- Knights 2019 draw snapshot
- Warriors 2019 draw snapshot
- Cowboys 2019 draw snapshot
- Eels 2019 draw snapshot
- Panthers 2019 draw snapshot
- Dragons 2019 draw snapshot
- Rabbitohs 2019 draw snapshot
- Roosters 2019 draw snapshot
- Tigers 2019 draw snapshot