Sharks captain Paul Gallen believes he's fitter than ever. Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au
Cronulla Sharks v Gold Coast Titans
Monday, March 10 – 6.05pm (AEST)
Things you need to know:
Cronulla star Todd Carney has been named but is considered a 50-50 chance to play due to a hamstring problem. He'll have a new halves partner if he is passed fit with Daniel Holdsworth covering for the injured Jeff Robson (cheekbone). Luke Lewis' continued recovery from a shoulder injury means new signing Matt Prior starts in the back-row. There's no major surprises with the Titans line-up with basically all of their big names on deck. Prop Luke Douglas will break Jason Taylor's premiership record for most consecutive games, turning out in his 195th straight NRL match against his former club Cronulla.
Reason to watch:
Gallen v Myles II. Ok these two have met since that infamous stoush in last year's State of Origin opener but there's always the chance it could explode again. While the pair insist there's nothing but respect between them, there's is no doubt a level of hate and neither will take a backward step to get their side's 2014 campaign off to a winning start. If things get a bit heated you can be sure Gallen and Myles won't be far away from the action.
Reason to turn away:
Another off season of upheaval and distracting headlines has sure to have had some affect on the Sharks, who are without their coach and are again waiting to see if there will be any sanctions against some players. It was a similar feeling they had going into the corresponding fixture last season, ironically also against the Titans. On that occasion the emotion got the better of the quality of football and there is a strong chance the same thing can happen on Monday night.
"I don't want to talk it up too much, but I'm probably in the best shape I've been in for a number of years to be honest. We had a fitness session last Wednesday, Friday then Monday, and even (coach) Peter Sharp came up and said to me 'mate, I've never seen you run like this'." – Sharks skipper Paul Gallen.
Much will depend on the fitness of Carney, especially with first-choice halfback Jeff Robson already sidelined. If Carney can shrug off his hamstring strain then you would have to lean towards the home side but if not the Titans would certainly fancy their chances of snatching the two competition points. It will be tough and hard-fought but it's the Sharks by 2.
LIVE on FoxSports 1
Click here to bet on NRL matches