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A new era for St George Illawarra kicks off at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium when the Dragons host traditional rivals Cronulla in the first match of Anthony Griffin's tenure.

The former Broncos and Panthers mentor becomes the eighth coach of the joint-venture, following in the footsteps of David Waite, Andrew Farrar, Nathan Brown, their 2010 premiership winner Wayne Bennett, Steve Price, Paul McGregor and last season's interim appointment, Dean Young.

For the Sharks, coach John Morris is off contract heading into the new season, looking to extend his run of playoff appearances to three straight years after taking the reins when Shane Flanagan departed at the end of 2018.

Dragons v Sharks

The rundown

Team news

Dragons: Anthony Griffin's side will start 1-17 after Jackson Ford and Kaide Ellis were the two players left out an hour before the game.

Former Roosters prop Poasa Faamausili has successfully progressed through HIA protocols after suffering a concussion in the Charity Shield. He has been named on the bench alongside fellow forward recruit Daniel Alvaro. 

With Cameron McInnes out for the season with a torn ACL, veteran Andrew McCullough will slot in at hooker with Tyrell Fuimaono winning the race for the No.13 jersey. Blake Lawrie has been named at prop, with veteran Trent Merrin on the bench.

Jordan Pereira and Max Feagai were cut from the 21-man squad on Saturday.

The Dragons won only two from six at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in 2020.

Sharks: Cronulla will start 1-17 after Mawene Hiroti and Teig Wilton were the last two players omitted. Andrew Fifita has missed out on a spot in the 17. He was cut from the extended squad on Saturday along with Braydon Trindall.

Josh Dugan, Toby Rudolf and 2021 recruit Aiden Tolman shook off their respective leg injuries to be named for the short trip to Kogarah. Royce Hunt (knee) and Siosifa Talakai (shoulder) are still at least a week away from returning.

Matt Moylan will start the season at five-eighth and Will Kennedy at fullback with Shaun Johnson still a couple of months away from returning after Achilles surgery.

The Sharks have lost their past seven Round 1 games.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Matthew Dufty
    Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
  • Winger for Dragons is number 2 Cody Ramsey
    Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
  • Centre for Dragons is number 3 Jack Bird
    Centre for Sharks is number 3 Josh Dugan
  • Centre for Dragons is number 4 Zac Lomax
    Centre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse Ramien
  • Winger for Dragons is number 5 Mikaele Ravalawa
    Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
  • Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Adam Clune
    Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Matt Moylan
  • Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben Hunt
    Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad Townsend

Forwards

  • Prop for Dragons is number 8 Blake Lawrie
    Prop for Sharks is number 8 Braden Hamlin-Uele
  • Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Andrew McCullough
    Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
  • Prop for Dragons is number 10 Paul Vaughan
    Prop for Sharks is number 10 Aaron Woods
  • 2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Josh Kerr
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
  • 2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Tariq Sims
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Wade Graham
  • Lock for Dragons is number 13 Tyrell Fuimaono
    Lock for Sharks is number 13 Toby Rudolf

Interchange

  • Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Poasa Faamausili
    Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Connor Tracey
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Trent Merrin
    Interchange for Sharks is number 15 Aiden Tolman
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Daniel Alvaro
    Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Jack Williams
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 17 Brayden Wiliame
    Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Billy Magoulias

Match Officials

  • Referee: Peter Gough
  • Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
  • Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
  • Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy

Last updated:

Key match-up

Tariq Sims v Wade Graham: The experienced second-rowers are crucial to their team's chances.

Sims has the chance to become the spearhead of the St George Illawarra pack following the departures last year of James Graham and Tyson Frizell while Graham is the Sharks' creative spark on the left edge who can also turn momentum in a game with a massive hit in defence.

Stat attack

Cronulla "led" the NRL in missed tackles last year, dropping off 743 over the course of the season, well clear of the next-worst offender, Canterbury, who racked up 648.

They have had all summer to rectify this problem - it will be near impossible to return to the finals if they again miss more than 35 tackles per game.

What will be the result in this Telstra Premiership clash?

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