Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has accused his side of getting swept up in their record-breaking winning run and march toward a potentially historic NRL finals series.
After having their club-record 15-game winning streak broken by a draw with Gold Coast, the Sharks’ four-month run without a loss came to an end against a red-hot Canberra last week.
For many of the club’s long suffering fans, it was the loss they had to have, and Flanagan said he was hopeful it would help them refocus just four weeks out from the semi-finals.
He said he felt his team were losing sight of what was important in the weeks leading up to their defeat against Canberra, which saw them surrender top spot to Melbourne.
“We were in a little bit of a holding pattern two or three weeks ago where we knew we were going to be in the semis and we had to continue to win games on the way home,” Flanagan said on Friday.
“I think we were looking too far ahead to the semi-finals and it’s hard to keep their heads down and work really hard when they know they’re going to be in the semi-finals.
“The players coming back from Origin, right across the game in all clubs, struggle a little bit when they come out of Origin and they see daylight and they see the semi-finals coming.
“Of course they’re quality players and they kick into gear and play really well in the last few rounds heading into the semi-finals.”
Flanagan was confident of a rebound when they face struggling St George Illawarra in a local derby on Saturday night.
He admitted to giving his side numerous sprays in the lead up to last week’s loss after noticing his team getting caught up in the hype.
Veteran skipper Paul Gallen on Thursday told Triple M that Flanagan had unleashed an “award-winning” dressing-down at halftime during their win over Newcastle three weeks ago.
When asked about the incident, Flanagan said he had unleashed so many verbal tirades lately he found it hard to remember them.
“I can’t remember them too much, they all sort of blend into each other,” he said.
“But I’ve had a couple lately.
“We’ve got a great opportunity this year and we don’t want to let it slip so sometimes young blokes think that things are going okay and even (skipper Paul Gallen), at this stage of his career, thought things were going okay and needed to be pulled into line.”