Titans coach Garth Brennan has challenged his representative-laden forward pack to live up to their repuations when they face a Cronulla pack he considers among the best in the NRL.
Motivated by first-round losses, the Titans and Sharks both bring engine rooms packing plenty of power but on paper, it is Gold Coast who have more players to have achieved higher honours.
Jarrod Wallace, Nathan Peats and Jai Arrow have all played State of Origin, Shannon Boyd and Kevin Proctor have represented the Kangaroos and Kiwis respectively while captain Ryan James has been on the cusp of selection for New South Wales the past two seasons.
The Sharks themselves boast three Blues representatives in their starting team in Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita and Matt Prior with another waiting on the bench in Aaron Woods, presenting the Titans with the opportunity to prove themselves in a hostile Shark Park environment.
"There's been a lot said about our pack and how strong they are and how they've represented so they probably do need to stand up a little bit and take a bit of pressure off the halves," Brennan said.
Sharks v Titans - Round 2
"I know the halves got criticised a bit for the way they handled the conditions last week but I think our forwards need to stand up a bit too.
"They've got some representative credentials those guys so I’d like to think they feel that among themselves.
"There's no bigger challenge than that Cronulla pack. They're experienced, they're hardened, they're tough and they’re very skillful. Our guys have got to stand up and they are aware of that.
“Last week in the wet conditions some guys had some really good performances but they understand that forwards contribute a long way towards winning football games.
"The boys understand that they're in for a tough afternoon when you look at the middle they’ve got in their team with Fifita, Prior, Gallen and Woods. They're all representative players. They're a quality pack that the boys have to stand up to.
"If your pack doesn't stand up then you're in trouble."
Already preparing to equal Andrew Ettingshausen’s record for the most first grade games for Cronulla, Gallen added further emotion to the round two meeting by announcing on Friday that his 19th year would be his last.
At 37 years of age – the oldest player in the 2019 Telstra Premiership – Gallen's announcement was only shocking in the way it was casually delivered on Sydney radio.
Brennan doesn't expect it to provide any further fuel for a Sharks team chasing their first win but paid tribute to one of the game's most enduring – and polarising – figures.
"He's hated up here north of the border but he probably loves that," said Brennan. "That's what gives theatre to rugby league and makes people passionate.
"He's been fantastic for Cronulla, New South Wales and Australia and done a fantastic job for the game in general.
"I think that everyone has probably been aware that it might have been his last year anyway. If we were playing them in the last game at Shark Park it might be a bit more emotional.
"Paul's a fantastic player and he’s been fantastic for the game."