Andrew Fifita vs David Klemmer clash to light up season kick off for Cronulla Sharks and Newcastle Knights: Aaron Woods

It's on: Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita attempt to tackle David Klemmer in round 25 last season. Picture: Brendan Esposito/AAP Image
It's on: Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita attempt to tackle David Klemmer in round 25 last season. Picture: Brendan Esposito/AAP Image

Regardless of who kicks off or what end of McDonald Jones Stadium the Steeden sails to, it is likely Cronulla and Newcastle's seasons will start with the same mouth-watering clash - Andrew Fifita against David Klemmer. 

Aaron Woods is filthy he won't be on the ground for it.

The Sharks and the Knights start their 2019 campaigns against each other tomorrow night with Cronulla looking to shed their reputation as slow starters having lost their last five season openers.

They have an impressive recent record against the Knights though, having won their last eight matches against the Novocastrians and their last four in a row in Newcastle.

Cronulla also earned a psychological edge over Newcastle a fortnight ago, thrashing the Knights 30-6 in their pre-season trial at Maitland.

But who takes home the first two competition points of the season may come down to the battle between the forwards and the leaders of the packs.

And Sharks prop Woods said Cronulla would be ready for his mate Klemmer.

"He goes for anyone. Whoever has got the ball the big fella attacks," he said. 

"It's funny, I didn't get to play against him too much because I come off the bench. [But] it's good when you get out there to play against one of the best props in the game. It's just good fun, you want to challenge yourself."

Woods and Klemmer both left Canterbury in different circumstances last season, Woods midway through the year to join Cronulla while Klemmer took up a lucrative deal with the Knights.

The pair have been through plenty together, playing State of Origin for NSW and briefly together at the Bulldogs last season. Woods even acted as a groomsman at Klemmer's wedding.

The Test props have rarely got to spend much time on the field against each other. They faced off in round 25 last season and again in the trial match at Maitland two weeks ago.

But Woods is just happy to see his mate enjoying the start of the next chapter of his life.

"It's just different seeing him in red and blue. But he's happy, I know he's pumped up. It's his first game in Newcastle, he played a trial in Wollongong and Maitland. So it's his first time at McDonald Jones Stadium. And I think he'll be pumped up. He loves it, the more the crowd is behind him the harder he runs. I think he's going to be really excited and he's really looking forward to it. It's a new chapter in his life," Woods said.

"I think we've both been through a similar thing, to be honest. Obviously for different reasons. But he's loving it. I think it was real hard on him at the start. He never would have thought he would be in a different jersey than the Canterbury Bulldogs. If you had told me this time last year I would be wearing a Sharks jersey and he would be wearing a Newcastle jersey I would have said you're dead set kidding.

"Especially with Klemmer, he loved that club. I think he still does support them. It's just things happen, I'm just happy he's happy. His family is happy. When I talk to him on the phone he sounds real refreshed and excited about what's ahead of him. 

"He's in a great spot. I ran into his wife after the trial and all the family just look happy and settled up there. Obviously it was a big move at the time, they're both from out west. It's a big move to go up the highway to Newcastle. They've backed themselves and now he's just got to let the footy do the talking, the big fella. "

Woods said he was "spewing" he would be likely on the bench for the opening clash between Fifita and Klemmer. But Fifita said as well as Klemmer the Sharks would have to be prepared for the rest of Newcastle's new-look forward pack.

"He's really lost a lot of weight. We versed him last weekend, I think he was playing at 118 [kilograms], now he's at maybe 111. It just looks sickening, to be honest," Fifita said with a laugh.

"It's just weird to see Klemmer that small. It's different and you can say 111 is not that light but for a front-rower [it is]. He's our current Australian Test [prop], he's looking lean. He's fit. He's just one of those players you want to play [against].

"And then you add in the rest of the forward pack, you just look at them from left to right they're all as tall as me. It's a bit different when you're looking at a team. But they're a solid team all over the paddock."

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