Cronulla Sharks to tackle Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale, Newcastle Knights at Maitland in 2019 NRL trials

Opportunity: Kyle Flanagan got a chance to play first grade when Cronulla took on Manly in a trial match at Shark Park in February. Picture: John Veage
Opportunity: Kyle Flanagan got a chance to play first grade when Cronulla took on Manly in a trial match at Shark Park in February. Picture: John Veage

Cronulla have locked in their 2019 pre-season schedule with trials against Manly and Newcastle.

The Sharks will travel to Brookvale Oval to face the Sea Eagles on Saturday, February 23.

Cronulla are then expected to head further north the following Saturday to take on the Knights at the Maitland Sports Ground on March 2.

While the venue for the fixture is not yet confirmed, the Leader understands a formal announcement is expected to be made by the end of the month.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has traditionally used Cronulla’s first trial of the season to test his squad’s depth before unleashing his stars in their second trial.

That would mean the likes of Valentine Holmes, Matt Moylan, Josh Dugan, Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen would be held back for the trip to the Hunter Valley.

Sharks co-captain Wade Graham is not expected to return until at least April after suffering a torn ACL in the qualifying final loss to the Sydney Roosters.

But the Knights clash could be the first chance for Sharks fans to see new signing Josh Morris in the black, white and blue.

Newcastle attracted a crowd of 6526 when they hosted Parramatta at Maitland in a trial ahead of the 2018 season in February.

The Eels, who were regarded as pre-season premiership heavyweights but would go on to win the wooden spoon, comfortably beat the Knights 26-6.

The Maitland Sports Ground underwent an $8.6 million redevelopment which included a 1100-seat grandstand, change rooms, amenities and a fresh playing surface. 

Knights coach Nathan Brown said Maitland was a great ground and one of the best country grounds around.

Cronulla will return to the Hunter Valley for their 2019 NRL season opener when they face the Knights in Newcastle on March 15.

Some Sharks players return for pre-season training on Monday, with the bulk of the squad to return intermittently over the next month after an arduous finals campaign and representative duty. 

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