Cronulla five-eighth Jack Bird bristles at the suggestion the Sharks are still little fish in a big pond.
Just one win away from securing an NRL top four berth, Bird says it’s time he and his teammates were shown due respect.
The Sharks have rocketed into the premiership frame on the back of a consistently strong second half of the season, losing just two games over the last three months.
Bird says they deserved to be spoken about as premiership contenders and he can’t work out why pundits leave them out of title discussions.
“I had a belief at the start of the year that we should be there,” Bird said on Tuesday.
“People do write us off. We do have a good team. I don’t know what they’re talking about.
“I think we should be there.”
Bird was a catalyst for the side’s rise out of the doldrums after a winless opening month.
Thrown into the unfamiliar five-eighth role in round five – and in just his second match of top grade – he sparked the Sharks to a win over the Sydney Roosters that few saw coming.
Bird reckoned he’d been blessed with self belief all his life and he paid scant attention to reputations when coming up against the game’s stars in his rookie year.
He will need to carry that attitude into the finals with showdowns against some of the NRL’s biggest names beckoning.
He will need to get the better of New Zealand Test No.6 Kieran Foran in the last-round clash against Manly at Remondis Stadium on Sunday and he is likely to face off against the Sydney Roosters’ James Maloney in the first week of the finals.
“It’s just footy, you have to come up against those types players,” Bird said.
“To get in that spot you’ve got to play good football yourself.
“To come up against those (Foran and Maloney) you’ve just got to put in your best performance.”