Sharks wary of injury-hit Manly NRL side

Pamela Whaley
Despite Manly's horror NRL injury run, Cronulla coach John Morris is wary of a busted Sea Eagles

Cronulla coach John Morris won't be lulled into a false sense of security over Manly's horror NRL injury toll, knowing explicitly the danger of Des Hasler's side without their stars.

The Sharks were knocked out of the 2019 finals by a depleted Sea Eagles side who rallied without star fullback Tom Trbojevic, Curtis Sironen, Joel Thompson and Martin Taupau.

And set to face them again without Trbojevic and five-eighth Dylan Walker on Sunday, Morris is far from comfortable.

"The last two times we played them last year, they beat us both times without Tom Trbojevic and with a number of players out as well, so we're well aware that they're a really gritty club and they dig deep when they're not at their best," Morris said.

"We're aware that they're capable of winning without their big names - they did it all last year."

The Sharks have not beaten the Sea Eagles since 2016, and have won just one of their past 10 games.

"You look back over the years and they have got a pretty good record against us so they should be raging favourites if you look at records, but we're quite happily underdogs going into this game. That's the mindset that we need against them," Morris said.

"We need to be desperate and really urgent in how we play."

Taupau and barnstorming winger Jorge Taufua have been added to Manly's side. They missed last week's gutsy win which cost the club Trbojevic and Walker.

Centre Brad Parker has been cleared to play at Central Coast Stadium after copping a nasty head knock.

Hasler said the team recovered well after the bruising win over Canberra, but things needed to be simplified for the squad without two key attacking players.

Brendan Elliot and Lachlan Croker replace Trbojevic and Walker respectively.

"We encountered this last year for a long period and Brendan Elliot is no stranger to the role so he'll customise into that role which, I thought he did an unbelievable job last year," Hasler said.

"We'll find (our attack) elsewhere. There are plenty of areas and plenty of ways you can go about playing.

"Those players that come in to fill that role, they're up to the task - they have to be."

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Of all teams, Manly's has its best winning record against Cronulla, winning 66 of 92 matches (71.7%). The Sharks' 26.1% win record against Manly is their worst against any team

* In the past two seasons, Manly have won 14 of 18 matches when Tom Trbojevic has played, but just five of 14 without him

* Overall, Manly have won 15 of 18 games at Gosford and will aim for their sixth straight at the venue. Manly's 83.3 % winning record at Gosford is the best of all teams to have played more than one game there (Penrith won its their match there).