Cronulla are daring to dream of becoming the first team since 1993 to win back-to-back NRL premierships.
Why not Cronulla, again?
That’s the question the Shire will be asking following the Sharks’ 44-12 demolition of the Sydney Roosters at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday.
Following the six-tries-to-two flogging, Shane Flanagan’s men looked every bit capable of being the first side since the 1992-93 Brisbane Broncos to go back-to-back in a united competition.
It wasn’t just Cronulla’s most complete performance of the year, it was arguably the most dominant effort of any team in 2017 considering the Roosters went into the weekend second on the ladder.
Last year the Sharks carried the motto “why not us?” during their drought-breaking premiership win and are once again backing themselves to do the improbable.
“We’re in the picture, which is where you want to be. It’s massive,” back-rower Wade Graham said after his star turn.
“It’s hard, it’s the toughest competition in the world.
“If we get there at the back end of the year, we’re as good a chance as anyone else. That’s the opportunity and I’m excited thinking about the possibilities. If we get there, I don’t see why not.”
Graham was the Sharks’ best, causing constant headaches down the left edge, setting up two tries and controlling the match with his deft kicking game.
He put his hand up to slot into the NSW starting side for next week’s State of Origin III should Boyd Cordner (calf) and Tyson Frizell (back) fail to be passed fit.
The Sharks will be well represented in game three with Graham, James Maloney, Jack Bird and Andrew Fifita to head into Blues camp while Valentine Holmes will line up for Queensland on the wing.
Despite the Origin drain, they will emerge from next week’s bye in second spot and with a golden opportunity to make a run at a second title in as many years.
“We’re a very different team to last year. We’ve got to realise that, everyone has to realise that,” skipper Paul Gallen said.
“We can’t compare ourselves to last year. I think it’s important that we’ve got to realise we’re a different team this year and we’ve got our own strengths.
“It was a simple thing, we held the ball. It’s been an issue for us all year, we’ve made more errors than any other team up until this point.
“We can compete with anyone as it is but if we can eliminate those errors, just do what we do well, we can win most games.”