With Cronulla at sixes and sevens in the halves, Braydon Trindall has vowed to step up in the absence of Kiwis great Shaun Johnson.
Cronulla jumped to seventh on a congested ladder after their 44-24 win over last-placed Canterbury on Sunday Johnson's plight ensured celebrations were muted.
Johnson was on Tuesday ruled out for 4-8 weeks with what the Sharks called a high-grade hamstring injury.
The Sharks are also sweating on the return of five-eighth Matt Moylan who is battling his latest calf complaint. Moylan has been named as a reserve for Sunday's match against Manly.
While there may be a question mark over Cronulla's halves as they look to nail down a top-eight finish, Trindall believes he can start providing some answers.
The 22-year-old has only started four games at five-eighth for Cronulla this year after largely being used as a bench utility.
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But Trindall believed he was primed to show why he has already been earmarked by incoming coach Craig Fitzgibbon as the Sharks' long-term No.7 thanks to lessons learned from Johnson himself.
"He's been awesome. He's a top-shelf player," he said of Johnson.
"He offers little things at training and in games that help me here and there. It doesn't seem like much at first but I have found it has made such a big difference in my game."
Those tips came in handy on Sunday as Trindall helped Cronulla regroup after Johnson's injury before finally putting away the Bulldogs at Cbus Super Stadium.
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There were big shoes to fill after Johnson dominated early, laying on two tries and threatening to deliver another down their right edge before tweaking his hamstring and leaving the field in the 34th minute with Cronulla up 18-6.
Trindall helped the Sharks lead 30-6 at halftime before surviving a second-half Dogs revival to clinch a sixth win in eight games.
The five-eighth finished with one line-break assist, a try assist and two forced drop outs while also handling goal-kicking duties, nailing eight from nine.
Trindall said he wanted to cement a starting spot in the finals run home and beyond but revealed he was already a big part of Fitzgibbon's long-term plans.
"We have had a few good chats. He's been honest and straight up with me," Trindall said of Fitzgibbon, who starts a three-year deal when he takes over the reins next season.
"He said that he sees me as a long-term seven and I am happy to develop under him.
"In the meantime, I will see if we can get some wins and get into the eight."