2024 NRL WA Premiership Preview – Round 09

By PETER ROWE 

 

Rockingham Sharks assistant coach Peter Williams knows Saturday’s NRLWA Fuel to Go and Play Premiership clash with the South Perth Lions could go either way as both teams battle through injuries and work commitments.

 

And with eight weeks of the season already completed Lions team manager Paul Brown is also aware his young side needs a win to stay in the race for a playoff spot.

 

“South Perth have some great kids who pushed us all the way when we met at their place a few weeks back,” Williams said. 

 

“They never gave up, we switched off and they made us fight for the points, so I expect them to do exactly the same this week.”

 

Williams had mixed feelings about the Sharks loss at Fremantle last weekend. “We were way off first half and we didn’t slow the ruck down, so we have to be better than that.”


Photo – Libby McMillan 

The Sharks will again be without several key players, player-coach Tom Murphy one key omission through injury, but the feeling in the club is not to get too worried.

 

“We are not going to rush people back from injury, it’s a long season,” Williams added. 

 

“We’ve picked a team we think can do a job, so let’s see. It will be a good game.”

 

South Perth are also missing several players  – injury and work taking its toll.

 

“We won’t finalise the team until late in the week,” Brown said. “Corban Daniels is one out because work commitments and Chris Tuatara, our big forward is also away.

 

“ But we know we have to find a win and keep pace with everyone. A win won’t just come by turning up, but everyone is upbeat and ready for the challenge.

 

“When we can get our best 13 out there on the paddock we are a match for any team.”

 

 With both teams eager to stop losing runs, this game could emerge as a real close encounter – both, despite injuries, have match-winning players and in a derby like this neither side will want to lose.

 

At Admiral Park an understrength Joondalup Giants are upbeat they can cause an upset against in-form Fremantle.

 

“We’ve got a couple back, River Colman a key addition, but we’re still missing a few and won’t really have a full strength side for a few weeks,” veteran halfback Taurean Sheehan said.

Sheehan said they had dissected last week’s loss at North Beach and have been working on improving several things in training.

 

“The boys responded well and we’re a tight bunch,” he said.

 

“There was a buzz at training and I know that some of the kids we have brought through are just eager to get out on the park again.

 

“I know if we can get through the next couple of weeks and get key players back, we will be still there come the playoffs.”

 

The Giants know Fremantle are a tough ask, and Roosters captain Duane Butler also knows there are no easy games in this five-team competition.

 

“We’ve had a good couple of wins on the bounce and that has really pushed us on, but we still have to focus and turn up for each other,” Butler said.

 

We trained well on Tuesday and we know Joondalup will be wanting something from the game, so we have to be ready.”

 

The Roosters will make a couple of minor changes to their side, Reggie Manu will be missing in the centres, but Jayden Solomon is a possible in at hooker.

 

And Butler, is he ready to return from his rib injury?  “Not yet, I think I will need a couple more weeks.”