Flanagan urges Sharks to embrace NRL hype

Forget leaving the porch light on, light up the entire village.

Shane Flanagan has urged his team to embrace the hype after they took an almighty step towards breaking the club’s premiership drought with a stirring qualifying final comeback win over Canberra on Saturday.

Already down on form and without injured skipper Paul Gallen, Flanagan’s men also overcame the early loss of vice-captain Wade Graham and a 12-0 deficit to register one of the famous wins in the club’s history.

More importantly, the victory lifted them to within 80 minutes of this year’s NRL grand final, with the winner of next week’s North Queensland-Brisbane semi final the only hurdle left in their way.

It’s a stunning turnaround for a side that limped into the finals with one win in their past six games.

But as they await their next opponent, Flanagan told his team to inhale the rarified air that is set to consume the Shire over the next fortnight as expectations build on a maiden NRL premiership.

“I was always told not to worry about things you can’t control and I can’t control that (hype),” Flanagan said after the win.

“I think we need to enjoy it. Being a grand final qualifier, it doesn’t come around too often.

“The players need to get a feel for it but in the end, I’ve got a pretty smart footy team in there that’s been around. They wont get caught up in the hype of being in the game and they’ll concentrate on the game.”

The Sharks have reached the grand final qualifier on six occasions over their 49-year history.

Only three times have they gone on to feature in the big one, including the 1997 Super League competition.

But not once have they hoisted the trophy at the end.

Flanagan backed the experience of his senior men – six of whom have appeared in grand finals before – to ensure the rest of the team isn’t overawed by the occasion.

Ben Barba, Michael Ennis, Chris Heighington, Luke Lewis, James Maloney and Matt Prior have all played on the first Sunday in October, winning a combined four premierships.

“That’s really important for us, having senior players, to enjoy the week, enjoy the hype, and know that it’s one week away from a grand final,” Flanagan said.

“But knowing that there’s a game of footy still to be played and making tackles and making runs still counts.”

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!