Coach backs Sharks to be flag danger

Sound Telegraph

Rockingham Sharks coach Darren Shaw is no stranger to being an underdog.

The former second-rower was part of a famous Sheffield Eagles Challenge Cup victory over the “unbeatable” Wigan Warriors at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1997.

So he is happy to be an underdog in 2017, as his side’s blend of youth and experience comes together for a tilt at the NRLWA Premiership.

It is Shaw’s second season at the helm of the Sharks and one he believes could bear fruit.

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Last year saw the retirement of several senior players and the need to blood some talented youngsters.

“It took a while for them to understand what we required and for the team to gel,” Shaw said.

“But we came home with a wet sail and upset a few towards the end of the year; another week or two and we would have made it.”

This year is a different proposition but with similar challenges.

Some have moved on and Rockingham have brought in several key players — forward Ben Bolth from Newcastle, James Deighton from Hull Kingston Rovers in England and the cub has re-signed playmaker Caleb Reedy to help steer the team across the park.

“Caleb’s not the only one who will do that,” Shaw said.

“JD (Deighton) is another and we have some strong voices out there who will make the calls.”

Shaw admits the pre-season has not been easy.

The Harmony Nines took players off to their respective teams and that disrupted many a senior coach’s planning, although the positives of the tournament outweighed the negatives.

“We just might see clubs using rounds 1 and 2 as pre-season games, still,” Shaw said.

“We have to work with what we’ve got and I am happy.

“We still need a couple of players, especially out wide and in the centres, but we’re looking so I’m confident that will happen.”

So will the Sharks be up there challenging for a flag this season?

“Why not? For sure — if we can pick up where we left off last season, then we will be a tough team to beat,” Shaw said.

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