Sharks must rid emotion of loss to rebound

·2-min read

Cronulla have been told they must let go of the emotion surrounding their extra-time loss to North Queensland if they are to keep their season alive.

The Sharks face one of the most difficult tasks in rugby league, backing up from their heartbreaking 93-minute loss to North Queensland for Saturday's do-or-die semi-final with South Sydney.

Craig Fitzgibbon's men have at least been done some favours, with the Rabbitohs no doubt carrying sore bodies out of their brutal win over the Sydney Roosters a day later.

But still, they played 13 less minutes of football than the Sharks and have the advantage of coming off a win.

Even in the post-match of Cronulla's loss, Cowboys coach Todd Payten admitted he spent part of extra-time wondering how he would be able to get his side ready for a semi-final if they had been beaten.

But there is some hope in the form of past results for the Sharks.

Saturday night's qualifying-final final was the longest NRL match played since the Wests Tigers-Sydney Roosters 99-minute classic in 2010.

Incredibly, both teams were able to back it up and win a week later, toppling both Penrith and Canberra who had an epic 80-minute affair on the same night.

"There are two elements to it," Roosters legend Anthony Minichiello, who captained the club in that match, told AAP.

"The physical side, it's different for everyone between the forwards and backs.

"It's about what you do with your hydration, your recovery and your sleep.

"But then's the emotional side of it. You have to let that go and then re-focus on the next opponent."

Minichiello said he expected the modern-age of sports science to ensure the Sharks were not too adversely affected physically by the loss.

In 2010, the Roosters shortened their sessions following the win over the Tigers, adding in extra recovery time and going without any lengthy field sessions.

But it is in the emotional stakes that Minichiello believes his former teammate Craig Fitzgibbon has his work cut out.

Fitzgibbon was not at the Roosters in 2010 after retiring the previous year, but current Sharks prop Andrew Fifita did feature for the Tigers in that extra-time loss before being part of the team that beat Canberra the following week.

"There's an element of 'we missed an opportunity there. We could have been one game away from a grand final'," Minichiello said.

"But that's the art of good coaching staff, and Fitzy is a very good coach.

"He will have to make sure they leave it where it is, it's done, we're in this position now and we have to go a new path."