Coach John Morris says Kogarah Oval will feel nothing like a St George Illawarra NRL home game when it’s decked out in Sharks colours.
The Sharks suffered a serious setback on Friday, with Josh Dugan ruled out with a hamstring injury and his 200th game celebrations pushed back a week.
Dugan hopes to return next week against Brisbane, with Cronulla taking the safe option after he had reported tightness following Friday’s training.
Bryson Goodwin will likely to come into the centres in a depleted backline already missing Matt Moylan.
But regardless, the Sharks are vowing to take a home-ground advantage and make the Dragons feel uncomfortable at a ground which has been their hallowed turf for 70 years.
But it will be home to the Sharks for the next few seasons while upgrades are made at Cronulla Leagues Club.
“We’re in the home sheds. I know they haven’t played at Kogarah in the away sheds, so it’s not going to feel like a home game for them,” Morris said.
“It’ll be decked out in black, white and blue and there won’t be much red and white there around the grounds.
Earlier on Friday, Dragons coach Paul McGregor said there was an obvious benefit for his side who called the stadium home, and were essentially in the midst of a five-match stretch of home games.
“It’s our home. It’s the home of red and white – looking forward to playing there. Familiar surrounds; settled day; let’s go,” McGregor said.
Morris joked he hadn’t yet figured out the plumbing to switch off hot water in the away sheds.
The Sharks have won 12 of 38 matches at Kogarah for a success rate of 31.6 per cent.
Only two points separate the teams on the ladder entering the second half of the season.
Dugan’s injury comes after Morris had shown younger members of his squad vision of the veteran back playing for the Raiders when he was ’15 kilos lighter and running around in head gear’.
“That early vision of Duges is as good as what you’ve seen from anyone in the game,” he said.
“When I think of Duges, I think of the stuff he does off the field. For me, he does so much in the background with disadvantaged kids and sick kids.
“That’s the true Josh Dugan and that’s what people don’t see, but I see it.”
STATS THAT MATTER:
*The Dragons have won seven of 10 matches against the Sharks at Kogarah
*The Sharks have never scored more than 20 points against the Dragons at Kogarah
*The local derby has been evenly contested since the St George and Illawarra joint venture in 1999, with the Dragons winning 23 matches, the Sharks 21 and one draw (26-26 in 2001).