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Sharks second-rower Wade Graham.

Sharks captain Wade Graham has reiterated he wasn't dazed in last Friday's loss to the Storm and said his cheekbone, not a head knock, was his main concern.

After successive head knocks caused him to miss the previous two weeks, Graham was vexed at having to leave the field for a HIA  - which he passed - late in his return match because he felt "fine".

The second-rower absorbed a blow to the cheekbone as he attempted to tackle Tui Kamikamica from a kick-off in the 55th minute, but it was only later when Graham appeared to cop an accidental knee from Jahrome Hughes that Cronulla's doctor decided to assess him.

Graham was rested from training on Wednesday to freshen his body but said he would return for Thursday's captain's run leading into a clash with the undefeated Panthers at BlueBet Stadium.

"I don't even remember being clipped by Jahrome Hughes, I don't think I was hit by Jahrome Hughes," Graham told

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"Apparently, that's what the staff have seen and I had a conversation with the doctor.

"Maybe they were a bit on edge because of the start to the season [after suffering repeated head knocks]. But when I asked our trainer to check me, I asked him to check my cheekbone.

"I got a big whack there and it was pretty sore. It's still sore now.

"In my opinion, I was fine to continue so there was a bit of frustration ... I understand the process – and the process is there for a reason, for sure."

Had he been dazed, Graham stressed that he wouldn't "muck around".

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"If anyone wouldn't be taking risks, it would be me at the moment considering the start to the year I've had," he added.

With only two wins and a few tight losses this season, the Sharks are in 13th place heading into round nine.

But Graham is adamant they can turn it around and reach the finals.

"We do need to get a move on, we are slipping and we've given ourselves a lot to chase, but we've shown earlier that we do have the ability to play football well against quality teams," he said.

Veteran prop Aiden Tolman was similarly optimistic.

"Whilst we haven't been getting the results we're after, there have been different parts of the game that we've been good at," he said.

"We showed for probably 55 minutes in the game against Melbourne that we were in it. [Against] Newcastle the fortnight before that we were right in the game, got beat on the bell.

"The off-field stuff, it doesn't really play a part in our performance come the weekend. There are no excuses there.

"The way it's panned out, the top teams are winning [and] the middle pack are struggling to bump off each other.

"Whilst we've only had two wins, we're only one win outside the eight. There's still a long way to go in this season.

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"We're confident we can put a few good performances in, get a few good wins back-to-back and springboard up the ladder."

Tolman knows Penrith will pose a mighty challenge, but he believes Cronulla can threaten them at their best.

"We've just got to be in the contest, we've got to take that to them and make sure we win our tackles," he said.

"They've got some strike power right across the park, so we've got to make sure our one-on-ones are really good, limiting their offload and those blokes that have the ability to break tackles.

"If we can do that, we've got an attacking structure that can menace any team, really, and put points on."

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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.

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