Supersub Ben Barba likens the confidence surging through the Cronulla team to that which carried Canterbury all the way to an NRL grand final in 2012.
The Sharks, together with a chartered flight full of fans, depart for Townsville on Friday planning to continue their fairytale run in Saturday’s semi-final against North Queensland.
The Cowboys will start as heavy favourites but Barba, who has played in the past four post-seasons, said the positive energy in the Sharks squad felt familiar.
“You can definitely feel the confidence in this side,” Barba told AAP.
“If I could compare it to anything, I could compare it to the 2012 side that I played with at the Dogs, just the confidence of the side is that high.
“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves, but we believe we’ve got a good enough side.”
Barba, who won the Dally M medal in 2012 before suffering a severe drop in form, said he hasn’t been this excited about his football since that memorable year, mainly due to Cronulla’s rise from the bottom of the ladder last season.
“After what this side’s been through, it’s good to see them back and giving back to the fans that stuck by them all this time,” he said.
“For them to be here in this position, it’s definitely the most excited I’ve been since that year.”
After back-to-back first-week eliminations with Canterbury in 2013 and then Brisbane in 2014, Barba said he was keen to make the most of the Sharks’ opportunity against North Queensland.
But the 26-year-old will again have to do it as an impact player from the bench, likely coming on as fullback as he did well against South Sydney last week.
“When it’s time for me to go on, I am given a heads up, if I’m going on in the next five or so. So I get my head right and my mindset ready to go on,” he said.
“It is different, but I’m used to it. I did this role before, a few years ago.
“I’m just trying my best for this team and hopefully it’s working.”