Cronulla have promised to get up in the face of Melbourne superstars Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk ahead of their NRL minor premiership shootout on Saturday night.
Brisbane pulled off one of the great ambushes of the season in last week’s upset win over the Storm, with the ladder leaders admitting they were put off their game by a Wayne Bennett-orchestrated tactical masterclass.
The Broncos rattled the Storm with early ball movement and their line speed, with the most telling moment of the game coming when the usually unflappable Smith was marched 10 metres for back-chatting the referees.
Smith lost his cool at the officials after a questionable penalty – with the incident indicative of how much the Broncos were able to unsettle the premiership favourites.
The Sharks boast some of the best nigglers in the game in hooker Michael Ennis and prop Andrew Fifita and hinted they would look to unsettle their opponents with the JJ Giltinan Shield on the line at AAMI Park.
“I watched that game and Brisbane just stuck to their game plan, they played really well and got up in Melbourne’s face and shut down their key players,” Sharks centre Jack Bird said.
“We’re talking now about how to shut them down and we played them here at the start of the year and beat them.
“That was a long time ago and we’re two completely different teams. It’s going to be a big challenge going down there to Melbourne but it’s not impossible.”
Bird was accused of failing to keep his cool a fortnight ago when he was captured by television cameras giving a spray to teammate James Maloney for a botched short drop out during their loss to South Sydney.
The Sharks broke their four-game winless run against Sydney Roosters on the weekend and Bird said the incident was just a sign of his frustration and nothing personal against Maloney.
“The camera came on my face at the wrong time,” Bird said.
“Obviously I did get a little bit frustrated but it wasn’t me aiming anything at James personally.
“I had a talk with him after the game and we were all sweet. I got frustrated and I don’t like losing. Coming off the back of 15 straight wins, to have three straight losses was something new to me.
“People say I’m an angry person. I’m always angry.”