No one remembers who goes first past the post in the NRL.
That’s the belief of Cronulla star James Maloney, whose side not only had their 16-game unbeaten snapped by Canberra last Saturday, but also their grip in the minor premiership.
The loss edged the Sharks off their perch on top of the NRL table, where they’d been sitting for six weeks before Melbourne leapt ahead following their last-gasp win over South Sydney.
Maloney, who was a member of the Sydney Roosters side that claimed a historic three minor premierships in the past three years, said lifting the JJ Giltinan Shield didn’t guarantee hoisting the NRL trophy.
“I won three at the Roosters and only got one premiership,” he said.
“When you look back, they’re great from a club perspective and it’s great to say, ‘Hey, you did it.’
“But to be honest, no one really cares about them. At the end of the day, you win the minor premiership and you’re not there on grand final day, it’s not what you call a successful season.”
The Sharks’ five-eighth said the side were all about being there on the final day, which the Shire-based club has only reached three times since their inception in 1967.
Cronulla has yet to win a premiership.
“That’s what matters. It’s nice from a club perspective and I suppose it’s a nice reward to say, ‘You have been the best throughout the year’. But it’s over come semi-finals.”
The Sharks are one point behind league leaders Melbourne, however could reclaim top spot when they travel to AAMI Stadium for the final game of the regular season.
Cronulla veteran Chris Heighington said finishing on top would be a big achievement.
“We’re just not looking at that. We’re just going to play as hard as we can for the next four rounds and if we’re there, we’re there. It’d be very special if it does happen,” he said.
“They’re a great team and they’ve got some great players there and great systems. Last round, when it does come, hopefully we’re up for the challenge.”
The team winning the minor premiership winner gets $100,000 in prizemoney.