Rudolf fine for Sharks, sweat on Kennedy

·2-min read

Toby Rudolf has declared he'll be fit to start Cronulla's NRL finals campaign after getting put through the wringer by jujitsu-master and Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon.

But Cronulla continue to sweat on the availability of a number of key players ahead of Saturday's home qualifying final against North Queensland after a month of injury disruption.

Will Kennedy remains a chance of returning at fullback, with officials waiting to see how he gets through a week of training on the ankle he injured in round 20.

Dale Finucane will come back from a rib complaint, while powerhouse centre Siosifa Talakai also remains a chance of overcoming his ankle injury in time for kick off.

The NSW State of Origin representative was hurt in a hip-drop tackle in Sunday's win over Newcastle, but the damage is not as bad as first feared with Talakai lucky in the way he landed.

Regardless, there are no such concerns over front-rower Rudolf who last played in round 22 when he did damage to the medial ligament in his right knee.

"It's feeling really good. It's still not a full normal knee, but it's definitely right to play," Rudolf told AAP.

"It almost feels arthritic, but my whole body is a bit arthritic at this point in my life.

"I've been doing all the rehab stuff, a game simulation-type of training on Sunday and it felt unreal.

"So I'm ready to go this weekend."

Rudolf played in a finals match for Cronulla in 2020, but claims this time feels different to when the Sharks were eliminated in the first week by Canberra.

"It's so different to finish second compared to finishing eighth and making up the numbers," Rudolf quipped.

"There was so much talk about how we didn't beat a top-eight side and almost had a losing record.

"But this time around, it's different. It feels different."

Rudolf's role has also increased.

In the two months before his knee injury he was averaging close to 60 minutes a game, acting as the genuine warhorse of the Sharks pack.

He is hopeful he will be able to accumulate similar numbers this weekend, after Cronulla played it safe and held him back from the last round until finals.

But if there were any lingering doubts over his fitness, they were put to bed by Saturday's session with Fitzgibbon in his toughest work out so far.

"I've had three weeks off and I don't really know if that's going to be a detriment or positive going into it (with minutes)," he said.

"I had a wrestle with Craig Fitzgibbon ... He's like a black-belt in jujitsu. So that was pretty hectic.

"I'm still a bit sore from that. So maybe a few more of those and I'll be ready to go."