Coach Shane Flanagan believes Cronulla’s long wait to play finals football has been behind their recent slump in form.
After hitting a mid-season purple patch, setting a club-record 15 game winning streak and confirming a finals berth, the Sharks have won just one of their last six NRL matches.
Cronulla face Canberra at GIO Stadium in Saturday night’s qualifying final when Flanagan believes the last two months will count for nought.
“We knew there was a semi-finals series coming up and it was probably a bit of a wait for us,” Flanagan said at Sharks Leagues Club on Friday.
“We were hanging around waiting for it and we had to get through a few competition games before it.
“Some of the boys, especially the older boys, had it in the back of their mind they didn’t want to get injured in a competition game, they want to play semi-finals.
“It is hard not to think about it when you are in those games but we are there now.”
In contrast Canberra have claimed 10 wins in a row as they stormed to second spot on the ladder after 26 competition rounds.
Regardless Flanagan is confident last week’s loss in the minor premiership showdown with Melbourne has the Sharks battle-ready for the finals.
“I thought it was outstanding for us to go down there and play like that against a side that has its act together,” he said.
“We just need to capitalise on our opportunities which we didn’t do last week. That is something we have worked hard on this week.”