Sharks won’t rest Origin stars

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan won’t bench his cavalcade of State of Origin stars as his side shoots for an NRL record of 20 straight wins.

The table-topping Sharks will be aiming for their 15th consecutive victory when they take on last-placed Newcastle at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Sunday.

Should they keep their unbeaten run going, they will draw level with the 1975 Easts Roosters, who hold the record for most consecutive wins of 19 in a season, against South Sydney in round 24 and will have a chance to set a new mark against the Roosters the following week.

With the ladder-leading Sharks soaring after setting a club record winning streak, Flanagan might be tempted to rest his Origin stars Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita, Jack Bird, James Maloney and Wade Graham in the final seven rounds before the finals.

However veteran hooker Michael Ennis says that’s unlikely to be the case and he expected them to field a full strength 17 from now until the finals.

“Looking at the little angry bloke that runs the team (Flanagan), I don’t know that he’ll give them a game off,” Ennis said.

“The boys want to be a part of it. If they’re carrying injuries then I’m sure Flanno won’t risk them but if they’re not and they’re keen to play, they will.

“He’s given guys time off during different weeks at different stages to clear their heads and get away from the game and that seems to freshen them up.”

Maloney, Graham and Bird took a short holiday to Port Douglas in the lead up to Sunday’s clash with the Knights while Fifita was spared from training last week while serving a one-game suspension.

Skipper Gallen is scheduled to have a rest from training duties next week and Ennis said he expected all five of their NSW representatives to put their hands up every week.

“When you’re winning games, it’s a really enjoyable place to be at a footy club and when you’re taken away from it for a few days, you get that real bug to want to be back around the boys and be a part of it,” Ennis said.

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