Confident Cronulla captain Paul Gallen claims the Sharks have “no fear” of playing in Queensland ahead of Saturday night’s knockout NRL semi-final with the Cowboys in Townsville.
NSW skipper Gallen is expected to be public enemy No.1 when he runs out in front of a sold-out crowd in league nuts Townsville in the must-win clash.
However, Gallen said the Sharks had relished the prospect of playing in front of hostile Queensland venues since the outset of the finals.
“A few of us were having coffee and speaking about this last week – both places hold no fear for us, whether we had to play in Townsville or Brisbane,” Gallen told Sky Sports Radio.
“We were saying how exciting it would be to play in Brisbane in front of 50,000 people.
“And in Townsville it would be more than 20,000 and we’ve had success there, so no, it’s not daunting.”
Cronulla are the only team to have beaten North Queensland twice this season, prompting Cowboys coach Paul Green to anoint the Sharks as the semi-final favourites.
Cronulla ended North Queensland’s club record 11-game winning streak with a 24-18 triumph in Townsville in June.
In Round 22, Cronulla got on top of a Cowboys pack without an injured Matt Scott to win 30-18 at home.
“They probably deserve to be favourites for this game,” Cowboys coach Green said.
“They’ve beaten us twice throughout the year, they have knocked off the Roosters and done well against top four teams.
“They play a tough brand of footy.”
The Sharks are buzzing from last week’s shock win over South Sydney which knocked the defending premiers out of the title hunt in the finals first round.
The Cowboys succumbed 16-12 to Brisbane at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium.
The winner books a grand final qualifier against the Storm in Melbourne next week.