They’re already talking up their chances, but former Cronulla coach Chris Anderson says the Sharks will need to play “outrageous” in 2017 to become the first team in a quarter of a century to win back-to-back titles in a united competition.
No side since the great Brisbane line-up in 1992-93 featuring Allan Langer, Kevin and Kerrod Walters, Steve Renouf, Willie Carne, Michael Hancock and Glenn Lazarus has successfully defended their crown.
Not even star-studded Melbourne, with future Immortals candidates Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk, or Manly, who also won two grand finals from four over the past decade have managed the feat.
It was also a bridge too far for Johnathan Thurston’s North Queensland Cowboys in 2016, with the Broncos in a 10-team Super League in 1997 and then in the first NRL season in ’98 the last side to go back-to-back.
Anderson, who coached both Canterbury and Melbourne to premierships before falling one game shy of guiding Cronulla to the 2002 grand final, believes the Sharks will be up against it next year.
But he isn’t completely writing Shane Flanagan’s men off.
“There’s no way you’d put money on it because Brisbane are the only ones who have done it (in the past 26 years) and Melbourne can’t do it,” Anderson told AAP.
“But they’ve got a good side. They played outrageous this year. They were a team who believed in themselves, they believed in their football and under pressure they delivered.
“I watched the game against Canberra that they played in the semis and they just knew how to win. That was the turning point.”
The Sharks are hoping monster recruit Tony “T-Rex” Williams will have a major impact in 2017, but their biggest dilemma is finding a replacement for influential hooker Michael Ennis, who retired after the 14-12 grand final win over the Storm.
Skipper Paul Gallen on Tuesday all but ruled out the premiers making a play for James Segeyaro, who wants out of his English Super League contract with Leeds Rhinos.
The Rhinos are threatening to sue the former North Queensland and Penrith No.9, as well as placing a $425,000 transfer fee on the 26-year-old.
“I think that would rule a lot of clubs out if they had to pay a $400,000 fee,” Gallen said on Triple M radio.
“That fee goes into your salary cap and you got to pay a fee on top of it … so that’s a big, big transfer fee.”