The Cronulla Sharks have gone fifty years without winning a Premiership.
Now, a clever article might list the historic things that have happened since such a feat has been achieved.
Unfortunately though, as history would have it, such a feat has never been achieved.
No, not me having never written a clever article – our boys from the Shire have never won a competition. In fact, they remain the only team in the NRL (besides the relatively young Gold Coast Titans) who have yet to hoist the trophy high.
But that all might change.
The Sharks are top of the table now and playing some of the best footy they’ve ever played. Let’ take a look at the reasons why:
Strength where they need it:
Here, I don’t necessarily just mean pure physical strength – even though Cronulla have lots of it. Cronulla are big and strong up the middle, fast and evasive out wide, and creative and mobile on the ruck edges. Top this off with a hardy five-eighth and a halfback who’s a master at settling play and steering the ship and you’ve got a combination that simply works. They’ve got what they need where they need it and in turn, play like a well-oiled machine. And these positions aren’t necessarily filled by superstars. While Origin tough guys James Maloney and Andrew Fifita and test stars Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen certainly help, it’s the hard work of guys like Wade Graham and Jack Bird that make this team a genuine contender for the title in 2016.
This year, the Cronulla team went into the season with 2281 games of NRL experience between them – the most of any NRL club. Workhorses like Gallen (260 games), Lewis (268), Ennis (256) certainly add to the team’s composure, and their experience in the representative arena helps in high-pressure situations.
Need I write more? Well, probably not, but I will anyway.
Quick, smart and diminutive, the little fullback looks to be recapturing the 2012 form that saw him crowned the Dally M medal for the best player in the game. Although perhaps not as prodigiously phenomenal and individually stunning as he was for the Bulldogs that year, Barba’s learned to play his role well at the Shire. And when you’ve got someone like Ben Barba playing a simple game surrounded by others who know their job, the natural flashes of inherent magic eventually start to show, and continue to do so with each passing week.
Although I try to refrain from barracking for any particular team, what the Sharks are doing at the moment feels like something special.
So for the good of the long-suffering fans, and the good of the hard-working players – for the good of the game of Rugby League – for now, I guess it’s Up, up Cronulla.