Sharks embrace NRL underdog status

Cronulla are drawing on some of the biggest upsets in NRL history as they seek to break their 49-year NRL premiership drought.

Chris Heighington and Luke Lewis are shaping as key men in the Sharks’ unlikely surge towards the season decider having been a part of the biggest title boilovers in recent memory.

Heighington was part of the Wests Tigers side which came from the clouds to claim the 2005 competition while Lewis started on the wing for the 2003 Penrith outfit who were rated 100-1 no-hopers during the season.

“There’s a few boys who have won premierships within our squad,” Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan said.

“We’ve spoken openly during the year about how things unfold.

“Chris Heighington spoke two or three months ago about how things unfolded in 2005 with the Wests Tigers.

“They were no hope and then all of a sudden they were in a grand final. The ride was so enjoyable and we’ve tried to explain how it happened.

“Luke Lewis has been in a similar situation. Michael Ennis has been around a bit.”

Flanagan is attempting to foster an underdog mentality within his group who are still considered long odds to claim their side’s first trophy.

Going into Saturday’s semi-final with North Queensland in Townsville, the Sharks are rated $15 to win the grand final with bookmaker TAB, the longest odds offered for any side still in the race.

Flanagan said he was embracing the Sharks’ standing with the punters and pundits but reminding his troops that history has proven rugby league can sometimes be a funny game.

“It’d be great to get into a grand final but we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” Flanagan said.

“But we’re not silly enough to think it isn’t a big goal and we’d love to be able to do it.”

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