You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Johnson will be a marked man when Cowboys ride into town

The Cowboys have named Sharks maestro Shaun Johnson as the man to watch in Thursday night's make or break clash at Cronulla.

Both teams are on seven wins and just two points outside the top eight.

Former Warriors star Johnson has been up and down in his first season with the Sharks but it's no secret how good he is when the mood strikes.

“He's a world class player," Cowboys assistant coach David Fairleigh said.

"He never really puts in a bad performance. When they need someone to step up, he's there. Him and Chad Townsend have been doing a really big job in the halves for them.

“He's a dangerous player, we’ve got to keep an eye out for him. He’s got a lot of tricks up his sleeve and can definitely score a try from nothing.

“I think we definitely have to keep a straight line. He thrives on people making errors defensively and so we’ve got to make sure that we’re really good in that area.”

Fifita fails to fire

The Cowboys will have one last training session on Wednesday before they take on a desperate Sharks side which has lost its last five games.

Cronulla will be without prop Andrew Fifita through suspension. His place has been taken Braden Hamlin-Uele.

“(Fifita's) obviously an experienced player, he gets a lot of offloads, it takes a lot of guys to tackle him, he goes forward really well for them but they’ve got some good guys to come in as well," Fairleigh said.

"They're probably not playing at their best at the moment, like us, so it's going to be a tough battle.”

Woods: Fifita takes responsibility for defeat

The same Cowboys team which led the Rabbitohs 18-12 last week before conceding three tries in 10 minutes will line up against the Sharks.

They were hoping Origin star Michael Morgan (concussion) would return but he is being rested again.

Despite the short turnaround from round 18, Fairleigh doesn't expect fatigue to be an issue.

“I actually think it's probably a good thing for us," he said.

"Obviously the boys were very disappointed in how the game ended up the other night. I think the sooner we can get into a new game it's going to be good for the team.”

Fairleigh doesn’t read much into the form guide leading into the game.

“You can still play good and lose. I've never seen a competition that's so close and teams that are actually losing still playing well," he said.

Tackle of the week: Round 18

"You don’t play well, you don't get the two points. That's the nature of the NRL. This year has just been tighter than I've ever seen.”

Young winger Murray Taulagi made his NRL debut on Saturday and bombed a certain try midway through the second half but Fairleigh expects him to bounce back this week.

“I felt for him on his debut. He’s brushed it off, he's over it," he said.

"We've trained well, we're ready for the Sharks, he's ready for the Sharks, so I'm sure he’s going to do a great job for us.”

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners