Cronulla Sharks coach John Morris prepared for Manly ambush in 2019 elimination final

Ready and waiting: Sharks coach John Morris is wary of a wounded Manly side on Saturday night. Picture: Chris Lane
Ready and waiting: Sharks coach John Morris is wary of a wounded Manly side on Saturday night. Picture: Chris Lane

John Morris is wary of a typical "backs to the wall" performance from Manly when his Cronulla side take on the decimated Sea Eagles in their NRL elimination final on Saturday night.

Manly welcome the Sharks to Brookvale Oval with their momentum stalled at the wrong time of year.

Star fullback Tom Trbojevic and outstanding back-rower Curtis Sironen are out for the season through pectoral and foot injuries respectively. Manly's other back-rower, Joel Thompson, remains sidelined with a broken arm while Taniela Paseka is out with a knee problem. Starting prop Martin Taupau is also suspended.

There are also fitness doubts on Brad Parker (head knock), second-rower Jack Gosiewski (knee) and prop Morgan Boyle (shoulder).

Manly lost their final two regular season matches to Melbourne and Parramatta to slide out of the top four and into sixth place, setting up a 'battle of the beaches' to stay alive in 2019.

The Sharks are trending in the opposite direction having won five of their last seven games to sneak into the finals with a final round win over Wests Tigers.

Cronulla will be without Ronaldo Mulitalo after the young winger entered an early guilty plea to a shoulder charge while Matt Moylan is unlikely to return from a hamstring injury having had another set back in the captain's run leading into the Tigers clash.

Rookie Sharks coach Morris, who has led Cronulla to the finals for the fifth consecutive year in his first season in charge, is prepared for an ambush from the depleted Sea Eagles.

"There's no club that does it better, the backs to the wall type performance. A Des Hasler-coached side in Manly. They love to play nice and physical," he said.

"They've shown all year they can win with players being out and they've had injuries all year with Tom [Trbojevic] and [Daly Cherry-Evans] being out injured and they had that period where they won all those games. They've had a fantastic year. They came to PointsBet Stadium this year and touched us up so we need to be wary of that.

"We always have big games against Manly. I've got no doubt they're a different side at Brookvale Oval. It shapes for a big game.

"They came [to Shark Park] and physically I think we lost the battle in the middle of the field that day. [Addin] Fonua-Blake, Taupau and Jake Trbojevic rolled us down the middle third of the field.

"That was a long time ago, I think it was round 10. We will go back to that but I think the focus for us has been I think we've won five of our last seven games. We've really turned a corner, we're a different team than what we were the first half of the year. And the boys have got that bit of confidence and belief about our performance so we'll take confidence out of the back end of the year rather than what went wrong at the start of the year."

Cronulla have a dismal record against Manly and at Brookvale Oval. The Sharks have lost their last six straight games at the venue and 16 of their last 18 clashes with the Sea Eagles.

Manly were allowed to retain home ground advantage for the clash after the NRL received a formal guarantee from Northern Beaches Council on Monday based on expert advice that there would be no risk to public safety following the discovery of isolated traces of asbestos in a small area on the northern hill area on Friday.

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