AAP Rugby

Coach Morris warns Sharks to lift NRL game

By AAP Newswire

Cronulla coach John Morris has told his team there can be no more excuses and the time to stand up is now if they want to play in the NRL finals series.

Generally regarded as one of the better rosters in the competition, the Sharks sat eighth headed into this weekend and Saturday's crunch clash with the Warriors.

Plagued by injuries all season, Cronulla will again be without fullback Matt Moylan at PointsBet Stadium as he battles a hamstring injury.

The Sharks' run home is arguably the toughest of all the teams hovering around the top eight, with Canberra and the equally-desperate Wests Tigers on their schedule.

"I think we need to win all three (remaining games). If we don't get the job done this weekend it could make it really hard on ourselves," Morris said.

"We have got the playing group that won't take a backwards step against anyone in the finals. That gives me a lot of confidence.

"But the time to go is now. No more excuses about what has affected our performances to date.

"We've got a good side on the park and we need to stand up and get some momentum going."

Josh Dugan will move to fullback for the Sharks, while Ronaldo Mulitalo comes starts on the wing,

Morris said he also expected a more relaxed Shaun Johnson in his second showdown against his old club, after the Warriors edged them in Wellington last month.

Johnson has formed a key part of the Warriors' preparations, with the Kiwi half a childhood hero for a number of their squad.

They haven't spoken collectively about the chance to derail Johnson's finals chances at his new club, but the subject of playing against him again has come up regularly.

"He's been an idol at the Warriors for a number of years so we have put a big emphasis on Shaun and his kicking game," said Warriors winger Ken Maumalo.

"The forwards know to put pressure and try and limit his time kicking."

The Warriors have spent the week preparing in Sydney and are undefeated on the second leg of their trips across the Tasman.

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Cronulla have kept the Warriors to 20 points or less in their last 12 games.

* Cronulla make the most errors per game (12.3), and the Warriors the second least (9.6)

* Seven of Cronulla's last nine games have been decided by six points or less.

*Stats: Fox Sports