Cronulla have set themselves a goal of staying on top of the NRL table at least until their next bye in two weeks as they continue to ride their wave of irresistible form.
The Sharks will attempt to stretch their eight-game winning streak when they take on fifth-placed Canterbury on Monday night with almost a full squad on deck.
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan confirmed all three of his State of Origin stars will back up against the Bulldogs, however forward David Fifita remains overseas to attend to a family matter on personal leave.
Twin brother Andrew will stay with his teammates and is certain to play on Monday night.
“Andrew’s in a different position in his career at the moment so we just gave David two weeks compassionate leave and he’ll get it sorted it out hopefully,” Flanagan said on Friday.
Flanagan said his Origin troops had recovered well from Wednesday’s gripping series-opener.
“They had four days off so I think they enjoyed that, some time with their family and a bit of rest from me, rest from the training staff,” he said.
“Andrew’s fine, Jimmy’s (James Maloney) pretty battered and bruised, but he’ll be okay, and Gal’s (Paul Gallen) fine.”
The Sharks are gunning for their ninth win in succession – their fourth longest streak in club history – and also have the club record 11 straight victories in their sights.
That feat was achieved with a young Gallen back in 2002, when they finished fifth and fell one game short of a grand final.
Flanagan said he has yet to address the team’s lofty position at the top of the competition, but was sure the players were aware of where they sat amongst the league’s title contenders.
“We’re enjoying the ride at the moment, but we’re focusing on – and I know it’s an old cliche – week to week,” he said.
“We’ve got two weeks to the next bye and two really big games, Bulldogs and then Cowboys at home. If we’re good enough to get to the next bye without losing a game, I’ll be even more than happy.”