You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Rudolf knows it's no easy task trying to slay Manly forwards

Sharks prop Toby Rudolf knows his task gets even harder this week with Marty Taupau returning to what is arguably the best starting middle-forward rotation in the NRL.

Cronulla take on a Manly, a side they have beaten just twice in the past 12 years, having won two of their past three games following three losses to start the year.

Rudolf hoped the improved vibe around camp from Sunday's triumph over Canterbury would provide a lift when he spoke about the challenge facing the Sharks middle forwards this weekend.

"You just have to do your individual review and know their strengths," Rudolf said.

"Marty Taupau loves to stand and offload, [Addin] Fonua-Blake runs extremely hard, Jake Trbojevic loves to do the two middle shake with the pass out the back.

"Just knowing what your role is when each one of those guys is carrying the ball and in defence, knowing their strengths and weaknesses as well."

Match Highlights: Sharks v Bulldogs

Having signed for the Sharks in 2019 after a powerful season for Redcliffe in the Intrust Super Cup, his first year on an NRL roster was brought undone by a torn ACL and knee reconstruction.

He hasn't looked a bit out of place this year, playing all six games and averaging around 100 metres and 30 tackles per week.

"I've been loving it. It was not the start we wanted to the year but if I'm being honest I'm just happy to be here still," he said.

"Just playing NRL after waiting for so long is a dream come true and I'm just loving every second of it. Lapping it all up.

"I've got my chance now at 24, you can't do anything about lost time. I'm just doing everything I can to keep my spot in the team as long as I can and if I keep playing good footy that will keep happening.

"The vibe this week has been a lot better, after a win is always an improvement from losing. Now just looking to build and go on a little run ... hoping we can keep this run going and get a bit of confidence from the last win."

Hooker Blayke Brailey hoped key prop Andrew Fifita could add some spark after coming through his first game since the resumption unscathed, backed up by some keen emerging forwards.

"We've got some young powerful middles with [Siosifa] Talakai and Royce Hunt coming into the squad, a mix of experience, different abilities," Brailey said.

"[Aaron] Woodsy in the middle is safe and gets through his work then some strike with Uele coming off the bench. It's a real diverse pack and with the four middles on the bench it's really helping us win that middle battle.

Trbojevic ‘frustrated’ as mystery surrounds his troublesome hamstring

"Manly have a big side, they're powerful through the middle and they're probably going to come through there with Taupau coming back and Addin-Fonua Blake. [Fifita] is a big part of our team, hopefully he has a great game on the weekend."

Manly beat Cronulla twice while Tom Trbojevic was out injured in 2019 and Brailey, who played in the second of those defeats, believes the absence of the star fullback won't reduce Manly's threat.

"We've spoken about how Manly have gotten us the last few years, there's talk we're sick of them getting over us through the middle," he said.

"Tom Trbojevic hasn't played there the last few games but [Brendan] Elliot at the back there has had blinders against us the previous games."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Platinum Partners

View All Partners