No room for errors against Penrith: Sharks

·2-min read

Coach Craig Fitzgibbon says Cronulla can't afford to turn the ball over as cheaply as they did last week when they meet Penrith in a litmus test on Saturday.

The Sharks made 13 errors in last week's win over an understrength North Queensland and are ranked equal third in the league for errors overall.

Cronulla have hoisted themselves into third place on the ladder on the back of a five-game winning streak but Fitzgibbon says the side will get a better indication of their form when they face the reigning premiers.

"It's the ultimate test at the moment, as far as NRL standards go. We're excited for that, to test where we're at," he said.

Wet weather is forecast so Fitzgibbon is warning his troops to guard the football zealously.

"You've got to be careful of throwing the ball around in those conditions and you don't want to be turning over cheap possession to a team like Penrith," he said.

"(We need to) stay a little bit more patient with the ball, instead of continuously searching for points which is a balancing game but you want to build pressure. We just need to improve those areas."

Fitzgibbon said Connor Tracey was up to the task of handling Penrith's left edge now that prolific winger Sione Katoa has been struck down with a season-ending pectoral injury.

"It's really unfortunate for Sione. He was playing some great footy for us. He's had his surgery so he's on the mend," Fitzgibbon said.

Between them Penrith's left-edge outside backs Taylan May and Izack Tago have combined for 25 tries this season, while second-rower Viliame Kikau has continued the form that helped him into the Dally M Team of the Year in 2021.

Siosifa Talakai's breakout season at centre has kept Tracey on the fringes of the first-grade side but he returns to the fray on the wing against Penrith.

Fitzgibbon said he would not be fazed by the tough assignment.

"He's a really infectious player for our team," Fitzgibbon said.

"When you watch him, he's all heart, he's all effort, 100 miles an hour. The players trust him and love him so he's definitely a good in for us."

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