2023 NRL Season Preview
NRL19 Feb 2023

2023 Cronulla Sharks NRL Season Preview

The 2022 season saw a massive turnaround for the Sharks from the 2021 season. The Sharks finished last season in second place on the ladder. Thanks to that second-place finish, they were offered two bites at the cherry come Finals time. But in the end that didn’t matter, and they lost both games, to the Cowboys in week 1 and the Rabbitohs in week 2. With a very similar side this year, Sharks fans will be expecting another top four finish.

Recruitment Report

It was a fairly quiet recruitment period for the Sharks this off-season, with only a handful players either coming into the squad or going out. In terms of gains for the 2023 season, the Sharks have Oregon Kaufusi starting in 2023. Kaufusi is coming from the Eels. The prop has only played three games for the Eels in the last three seasons.

The Sharks have lost a couple of players, with both Andrew Fifita and Aiden Tolman retiring. They have also lost Luke Metcalf to the Warriors and Lachlan Miller to the Knights. Luke Metcalf played 13 games with the Jets in the 2022 season, while Lachlan Miller played 16 games with the Jets.

Ins: Oregon Kaufusi

Outs: Luke Metcalf, Andrew Fifita, Aiden Tolman and Lachlan Miller

Key Player: Nicho Hynes

There is only one player that can be mentioned as the key player for the Sharks, and that is the 2022 Dally M player of the year, Nicho Hynes. Hynes was essential to getting the Sharks to the Finals, and they finished in second place on the ladder. But the team’s performances in the Finals were not up to par. This will likely act as extra motivation for Hynes for the upcoming 2023 season.

Rising Star: Daniel Atkinson

Atkinson has had a couple of great seasons in the Queensland Cup, and that saw him gain an appearance in the NRL with the Melbourne Storm in 2021. Although that has been his only NRL appearance so far in his career. With the way things have shaped up at the Sharks this season, Atkinson could very well see some more time on the field at the highest level, if there is the need for a replacement in the halves.

5 Key Matches To Watch

Match 1: Round 4, vs Dragons, at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium (Sun, Mar 26, 6:15pm)

Match 2: Round 11, vs Sea Eagles, at 4 Pines Park (Sun, May 14, 4:05pm)

Match 3: Round 15, vs Storm, at AMMI Park (Sun, Jun 11, 4:05pm)

Match 4: Round 21, vs Sea Eagles, at PointsBet Stadium (Sun, Jul 23, 4:05pm)

Match 5: Round 22, vs Panthers, at BlueBet Stadium (Sat, Jul 29, 7:35pm)

2023 NRL Season Expectations

It was no secret that the Sharks had a friendly draw in 2022, but things are looking pretty good for them draw wise again in 2023. The Origin period, which usually throws up some difficult times for the top teams, has been kind for the Sharks. Before Origin I they have a bye, and before Origin II and III, they will be up against teams that aren’t expected to challenge the top eight, in the Bulldogs and Tigers. The Sharks may find it difficult to replicate their success from 2022, but a top eight finish is very doable.