The Sharks will look to secure back-to-back wins for the first time this season when they face the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium on Sunday evening.
The visitors are still without reigning Dally M Medallist Nicho Hynes who is reportedly hopeful of a Round 4 return as he rehabilitates a calf injury that he picked up during the preseason.
The only change Craig Fitzgibbon has made to the 17 that notched a valuable win over Parramatta on Friday night is Jack Williams replacing Connor Tracey on the interchange after missing their Round 2 clash with a head knock.
Wade Graham will not return to the lineup until Round 6 after copping a four-match suspension for a high shot on South Sydney’s Davvy Moale in Round 1.
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The Raiders, meanwhile, have also made just the one change to the 17 that suffered a heart-breaking, final-minute loss to the Dolphins on Saturday evening with Trey Mooney replacing Ata Mariota on the interchange after the latter broke his hand in the loss.
Veteran prop Josh Papali’i is set to miss another week or two with a calf injury.
The Sharks are fresh off a come-from-behind 30-26 win over last year’s Grand Finalists Parramatta at CommBank Stadium in which steadfast fullback William Kennedy snagged a match-defining hat-trick.
Canberra, meanwhile, gave up a 12-0 first-half lead to newcomers The Dolphins to allow them to swoop via a 77th-minute Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow match-winner and drop their second-straight to start the season.
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The Raiders are currently riding an eight-game winning streak over Cronulla with the Sharks’ last win in the fixture coming in mid-2018.
The two sides’ last meeting came in Magic Round last year when rookie halfback Brad Schneider steered the Raiders to a comfortable 30-10 victory at Suncorp Stadium.
Canberra – who will be playing in front of their home fans for the first time in 2023 – will have plenty to prove on Sunday evening having lost their first two games of the season on plays in the dying stages.
The Raiders have won five of their past six games at GIO Stadium with their only loss in that span coming to premiers Penrith.
Cronulla halves Matt Moylan and Braydon Trindall are fresh off an improved outing against Parramatta as they endeavour to keep the ship afloat sans Hynes.
Both men assisted on a pair of tries and largely shared kicking duties as the side finished atop Parramatta.
The Sharks middle, meanwhile, will have their hands full attempting to restrict Joseph Tapine whose ascension in recent years has him among the most-highly regarded middle forwards in rugby league.
The 28-year-old is coming off a 177-metre, 36-tackle performance in soppy conditions in Redcliffe.
Cronulla enter this one as favourites with bookmakers expecting Canberra to get off to an 0-3 start for the first time since 2018.
Kick-off: Sunday 19 March (6:15pm), GIO Stadium
Sharks squad: 1. Kennedy; 2. Katoa; 3. Ramien; 4. Talakai; 5. Mulitalo; 6. Moylan; 7.
Trindall; 8. Rudolf; 9. Brailey; 10. Hamlin-Uele; 11. Nikora; 12. Wilton; 13.
Finucane (c); 14. McInnes; 15. Hunt; 16. Kaufusi; 17. Williams; 18. Tracey; 19.
Hazelton; 20; Hiroti; 21. Berrell; 22. Atkinson
Raiders squad: 1. Kris; 2. Čotrić; 3. Timoko; 4. Smith-Shields; 5. Hopoate; 6. Wighton; 7. Fogarty; 8. Saulo; 9. Levi; 10. Tapine; 11. Young; 12. Whitehead (c); 13. Harawira-Naera; 14. Starling; 15. Mooney; 16. Horsburgh; 17. Guler; 18. Woolford; 19. Frawley; 20. Schiller; 21. Valemei; 22. Hola
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