Cronulla aren’t playing flash football, but Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy says their aggression and ruthlessness have made them a force in the NRL.
The Sharks have won eight of their past nine matches to sit fifth on the ladder, two points in front of the sixth-placed Storm ahead of Monday’s clash at Remondis Stadium.
With a top-four berth on the line, Bellamy admitted this week’s game was probably more significant than others and will be a challenge.
“They’re doing a lot of good things at the moment, a lot of things right,” he said on Wednesday.
“They don’t do anything overly flash, they just sort of stick in, grit their teeth and whatever comes their way they deal with it.
“They deal with it really well and they deal with it in an aggressive way.
“They’re quite ruthless when they get on top, so I think that’s the strength of their team at the moment.”
Having been forced to bring in a number of new faces because of injuries, Bellamy said the match was a good opportunity to see where his team stood on the NRL scale.
“We’ve been a bit up and down certainly the last eight or nine weeks,” he added.
“If we don’t toughen up this week, we know what’s going to happen.”
The Storm will be without rising teenage prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who copped a one-game suspension for making dangerous contact with Lachlan Barr in Sunday’s win over Gold Coast.
Bellamy said Asofa-Solomona had been great for the side particularly over the last four weeks, after a “hiccup” earlier in the season.
“He hasn’t actually played much rugby league, he’s a rugby union player, so he’s come along in leaps and bounds the last month,” he said.
“Hopefully he can continue to keep improving.”
Meanwhile prop Jordan McLean is expected to return to the field this weekend in the Queensland Cup after a lengthy stint on the sidelines with hamstring and knee injuries.
McLean has only played one match since round 13.