Finals experience vital for Cronulla Sharks
IAN MCCULLOUGH AND JOE BARTON
Shane Flanagan believes the grand final experience of halves pairing Jeff Robson and Todd Carney is a massive advantage for Cronulla going into this weekend's NRL elimination final clash against Canberra.
The Sharks head to Canberra on Sunday for their first taste of finals action since 2008, and coach Flanagan said Robson and Carney will play a key role in helping the Sharks in their quest for a maiden premiership.
Cronulla's last taste of play-off action was ironically also against the Raiders, who they beat and Flanagan also said Jeremy Smith and Bryce Gibbs, who have both won premierships with St George Illawarra and Wests Tigers would be crucial figures.
The Sharks are the only team to have a halves pairing that have played in a decider, and the coach is fully aware how important that know-how is.
"It's massive coming into big games to have players who have been there and done it," Flanagan said.
"We also have Jeremy and Bryce Gibbs and also Benny Ross who have won grand finals.
"Even though we have not been in the finals for a few years we have plenty of experience around the team."
Defeat to North Queensland last week scuppered any hopes of a home final for the Sharks, but having prevailed in six of their last eight games in the nation's capital, Flanagan is unconcerned about another road trip.
"Teams travel week-in, week-out, road trips are not that bad for Sydney teams," he said.
"The likes of North Queensland, Brisbane and the Warriors do it much harder every second week.
"As part of being a professional rugby league player, travel isn't such a hurdle to jump any more and that is how we are approaching this game."