John Morris hails Sharks-Dragons clash as biggest game of the season

Sharks coach John Morris. Picture: Chris Lane
Sharks coach John Morris. Picture: Chris Lane

John Morris believes Cronulla's derby clash with St George Illawarra on Sunday is their biggest game of the season so far as the Sharks chase an NRL finals place.

A win for Cronulla at PointsBet Stadium will guarantee the Sharks a place in the top eight by the end of the weekend as they look to retain the Monty Porter Cup.

St George Illawarra's season is all but over with the Dragons highly unlikely to make the finals.

The Sharks though will need to win at least three of their final four games to make the top eight. A bonus for Cronulla will be the fact the Dragons clash is the first of three consecutive home matches at Woolooware for the Sharks.

There is also the added spice that this could be the final derby clash at Shark Park until 2022.

Cronulla CEO Richard Munro confirmed late last month the club would proceed with the major redevelopment of their leagues club, forcing the Sharks to move their home games from Woolooware to alternate venues for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Cronulla plan to play the bulk of their home matches at either Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Kogarah or WIN Stadium, Wollongong but want to take their home derby matches against the Dragons to Bankwest Stadium at Parramatta.

Sharks coach Morris said his side would be ready for what he agreed was the biggest game of the season.

"It's certainly one that our supporters and actually all of the Sutherland Shire look forward to," he said.

"For a Sunday afternoon at PointsBet Stadium with the beautiful weather we've got at the moment I couldn't think of a better place to be. I know the boys are all looking forward to it. These sort of games all form goes out the window. It's a local derby at stake so we're looking forward to it and the Monty Porter Cup [on the line]. We can't wait."

Morris was disappointed that his side took "a step back" in their loss to Penrith last week. But the rookie Sharks coach is excited to see Cronulla Caringbah junior Billy Magoulias make his second NRL appearance in the absence of Andrew Fifita who is unavailable through injury.

"One thing [Magoulias] brings is enthusiasm. He's a real good kid. He's come through our system," Morris said.

"He made his debut a couple of weeks ago against the Cowboys I think and played really well. He'll come back in and bring that energy and he's got a really good skill set in the middle. He's a good defender and he'll be good for us on the weekend."

The Sharks won't be taking St George Illawarra lightly despite their lowly position on the table. Morris said he expected a battle against the Dragons who still feature a number of quality representative players.

"They've got some key players back in their side now with Gareth Widdop and Corey Norman. They're very powerful in the middle with a couple of State of Origin players in Paul Vaughan and Tyson Frizell and James Graham there," Morris said.

"They've got some speed out wide as well so we're under no false pretenses that this is a good side. Whilst they haven't had the results they'd want I'm sure they want to get a bit of credibility at the back end of their season. I'm sure they want to inflict some pain on others like ourselves. It shapes for a really good battle."