Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan could not care less about his side being written off. In fact, he expected it.
Cronulla's top fullback candidate Valentine Holmes has been ruled out of Thursday's NRL season opener against Brisbane due to injury.
The Brisbane forward says Cronulla will be highly competitive but are about to find out why no team has been able to complete the double since the early 1990s.
That there has not been a back-to-back NRL champion since Brisbane nearly a quarter of a century ago is not by accident.
They've been sworn enemies for more than a decade, but Paul Gallen and Cameron Smith will put aside a long-standing rivalry to launch the 2017 NRL season on Thursday.
A Joe Burgess hat-trick has helped Wigan claim a first World Club Challenge success since 1994 with a 22-6 win over Cronulla at the DW Stadium.
Cronulla forward Sam Tagataese will return to Sydney this week without a world championship medal - but with Faith.
An impassioned team address from Clive Churchill Medallist Luke Lewis has put paid to any fears of complacency for Cronulla going into the World Club Challenge.
Andrew Fifita's demeanour has not changed as a result of his recent travails, which include being stood down from the Four Nations over his support of killer Kieran Loveridge.
Valentine Holmes will base his game on Billy Slater and Brett Stewart after finally getting a crack at a coveted fullback spot.
Had things worked out differently for Daniel Mortimer he'd have spent last Sunday playing in front of a thousand-strong crowd instead of preparing for Cronulla's World Club Series decider against Wigan,
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan says he has the players to handle Wigan if the Super League champions' emotional build-up gets the better of them in Sunday's World Club Challenge.
The World Club Challenge concept was revived after 11 years in mothballs when current Wigan coach Shaun Wane played in a tumultuous, tryless 8-2 win over Manly at a packed Central Park in 1987.
With 17 days remaining until the start of the 2017 NRL season, Michael Chammas looks at pre-season form and the big questions confronting your club.
The NRL will audit Cronulla in the coming months amid suggestions the Sharks made up to $50,000 of payments to Ben Barba after his contract was terminated last year.
Kangaroos winger Valentine Holmes has reportedly agreed to a two-year contract extension with NRL premiers Cronulla, putting off plans to pursue a switch to the NFL.
Former dual international Craig Wing predicts Ben Barba will benefit personally and professionally from his own cross-code switch, although one of the troubled star's long-time teammates has questioned the motives behind the move.
The NRL and Cronulla have left the door open for Ben Barba to return to rugby league, however the Toulon-bound bad boy says the lack of a "clear pathway" forced his defection.
Ben Barba has left the door ajar on a possible NRL comeback in the future but claimed the lack of a "clear pathway" on a 2017 return ultimately resulted in his defection to rugby union.
On Thursday morning, Ben Barba informed Cronulla officials he will follow through on his plans to join Toulon, inking a $2.5 million deal to join the French rugby side for the next two and a bit seasons.