Sharks’ Flanagan doubted ‘amazing’ Cowboys

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan admits he was one of many who doubted North Queensland’s premiership credentials but is now amazed by their charge for the NRL trophy.

The Cowboys denied the Sharks a shot at back-to-back titles in a week-one finals upset before advancing to Sunday’s decider against Melbourne.

Flanagan insisted he had refused to buy into the hype surrounding the Cowboys’ much-publicised injury woes ahead of their elimination final match up two weeks ago.

“To be honest, I didn’t think they’d get to where they are today,” Flanagan said on Fox Sports NRL 360 on Monday.

“I listen to a lot of media hype; they come into the semi-finals series busted and injured. I didn’t buy into too much of that because I knew the quality of player they have within their team.”

But Flanagan says he’s now a believer after the Cowboys progressed with impressive victories of Parramatta and then the Sydney Roosters last Saturday.

The Cowboys are aiming to become the first team to win the premiership from eighth spot – and Flanagan reckons they have the belief to do it.

“Listening to (Cowboys coach) Paul Green after the weekend’s game and definitely it’s built since they’ve beat us – belief in that squad and knowing your role,” he said.

“Every one of their players doing their job 9.9 out of 10, it’s amazing.”

Flanagan singled out Cowboys veteran Scott Bolton’s form as symbolic of what the team is producing as a collective in the absence of co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott.

“Scott Bolton’s a classic example, he’s a journeyman front-rower doing a fantastic job,” he said.

“Every one of their players from 1-17 is doing an outstanding job on the back of knowing their role, just belief in each other.

“The self belief they’ve got over the past month, of being able to win semi-finals and now play in a grand final without their two best players, that’s powerful.”

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