2013 NRL Season Preview: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

By Brady Foray

It was touted this time last year that if the Sharks were able to the top eight last season it would be deemed a success. But nobody expected to see such a dramatic upheaval. Journeymen like Ben Ross, Isaac De Gois and Jeff Robson arrived and helped solidify the club as a genuine threat during the first half of last season. While they didn’t keep it up, finishing seventh, and were eliminated by the Raiders in the first week of the finals, the platform was laid for the Sharks to have a crack at their first ever premiership in 2013.

RECRUITS: L-R- Chris Heighington, Luke Lewis, Beau Ryan, Michael Gordon

Now they have the signed the stars to make the unthinkable only a couple of seasons ago into reality. Australian international Luke Lewis joins the Sharks this season alongside former Wests Tigers’ duo Chris Heighington and Beau Ryan, former Origin winger Michael Gordon and 2012 grand finalist Jonathan Wright.

Signings: Michael Gordon (Panthers), Luke Lewis (Panthers), Jonathan Wright (Bulldogs), Beau Ryan (Tigers), Chris Heighington (Tigers) , Tupou Sopoaga (Bulldogs), Alipate Ratini (Fiji)

Departures: Tyson Frizell (Dragons), Colin Best, John Williams, Josh Cordoba (retired), Jeremy Smith (Knights), James Hasson (Sea Eagles), Isaac Gordon (released)

Key to Success:

When the words ‘Success’ and ‘Cronulla Sharks’ are put together in the same sentence, what does your mind picture? If it isn’t Paul Gallen then you are delusional. Gallen (pictured left) is the heart and soul of the Sharks. Gallen has been the sole being that has kept the Sharks’ heart pumping over the years. Last season, Gallen managed to average astronomical numbers. To go with his 27.1 tackles per game, Gallen average 23.3 runs for 193.6 metres alongside his 63 tackle breaks and 52 offloads. Without him, the Sharks have nothing.

Player to Watch:

Luke Lewis, whose blood pumped black due to his association with the Penrith Panthers over the last twelve seasons, has joined the Sharks this season. While 2012 wasn’t as great as seasons past, Lewis was still an instrumental element for the Blues, Australia and the Panthers (when he played) last season. Lewis’s thyroid cancer scare shouldn’t prevent him from having a massive year at Cronulla.

Erratic Eddy says:

“People didn’t give enough credit to Jeff Robson on the Sharks’ performances last season. After two rounds the Sharks were in shambles. Wade Graham wasn’t cutting it at five-eighth and Todd Carney was struggling. Enter Robson and the Sharkies embarked on a six-game winning streak. Expect more of the same this season.”

“Luke Lewis, Beau Ryan and Chris Heighington are not only some of the names that the Sharks have signed this year but between them they will feature on the Footy Show every episode this season. Surely!”

Strongest 17: 1-Michael Gordon 2- Stewart Mills 3- Ben Pomeroy 4- Jonathon Wright 5- Beau Ryan 6- Todd Carney 7- Jeff Robson 8- Bryce Gibbs 9- Isaac De Gois 10- Ben Ross 11-Chris Heighington 12- Luke Lewis 13- Paul Gallen (C) Interchange: 14- John Morris 15- Anthony Tupou 16- Wade Graham 17- Andrew Fifita 18th Man: Jason Bukuya

Predicted Position: 6th

 

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