Cronulla have been told to respect early-season NRL surprise packets Gold Coast on Sunday – or else gets their pants pulled down again.
The Sharks certainly won’t be short of motivation against the unheralded Titans after almost becoming just the second team to have dropped both their games against them last season.
And with Neil Henry’s in-form men arriving in town this weekend, Flanagan was quick to warn his team about the dangers of not taking them seriously again.
“Hopefully we’ve learnt from those errors (last year),” Flanagan said.
“Playing at home again, we’re in pretty good form. But they’re a side that’s going to test us all the way and if we don’t respect them, we’ll get our pants pulled down.”
The Titans have stunned many, including Flanagan himself, on their way to claiming the scalps of the Wests Tigers, Newcastle and Canberra over the opening five rounds of the year.
They were also in the fight against heavyweights Brisbane and Melbourne.
“They’ve surprised everyone,” Flanagan said.
“Everyone was tipping them to not win a game and battle it out for the wooden spoon.
“But they’re two points off the lead, they’re really working hard for each other, and the no frills, it’s working.”
The Titans have promoted former Brisbane talent Cameron Cullen to make his first grade debut in place of the injured Tyrone Roberts, while veteran utility Will Zillman could make a surprise comeback at fullback.
The club co-captain hasn’t played in almost a year after suffering a back injury.
Prop Dave Shillington is also back after being a late scratching last week.
For the Sharks, Flanagan has stuck with the same line-up that turned on the style in a high-scoring win over the Wests Tigers last week.
STATS THAT MATTER
* The past four matches between these two sides have been decided by six points or less, with three of them decided by two points or less.
* Cronulla have won both their home games this year, conceding just eight points. They haven’t won their first three home games since 2005.
* Gold Coast have the second best red zone attack in the NRL so far this season, scoring a try on average for every 7.4 tackles inside the opposition 20 metre line.