Late loss sharpens Talakai’s finals focus

Having gone through 93 minutes of work to lose to death, Siosifa Talakai claims that Cronulla’s latest defeat to North Queensland can arm them for bigger final tests.

Talakai said he felt like he was “run over by a truck” after losing 21 points in the 32-20 point gold loss to the Cowboys last weekend.

The Sharks will now face the Souths at Allianz Stadium on Saturday and will need to win to make sure their promising first year under Craig Fitzgibbon doesn’t end in consecutive defeats in the final.

“It was a good lunge and gave me a taste of reality,” Talakai told reporters.

“No team has done it (beyond 90 minutes) for a while and I don’t think any other team has done it this year.

“If nothing else, he prepared us more for this match, it was a very positive experience for us as a team.

“This week is more of a mind game, it’s about attitude. I know we’ll all get up. “

Talakai has been busy all evening and had to thank former teammate Chad Townsend for his painful awakening.

Townsend sent numerous Cowboys kicks outside Talakai Ronaldo Mulitalo and that meant the impact of the cross was smoothed out.

When Mulitalo returned the ball, Talakai was the man forced to bear the brunt of the next blow at the start of the tackle count.

“We studied their game a lot and Chaddy was their main kicker and we knew the ball was going to come our way,” he said.

“It was a sight to behold when their whole team came to crush you.”

While the Cowboys are currently down to earth in Townsville awaiting a home preliminary final, Talakai is desperately looking after his.

The Sharks center aggravated a foot injury in the final round defeat to Newcastle but was cleared to play against the Cowboys.

He has regularly frozen his ankle but insists he should be right to face the Souths, a team Talakai knows well.

He used to compete against Hame Sele in the shot put and made his NRL debut under the guidance of assistant coach John Morris.

But Talakai has named former teammate, sparring partner and second rower Keaon Koloamatangi as one of the Bunnies’ top threats.

“He is very skilled and very strong,” said Talakai. “I think we have to put him in numbers and not give him time to finish and we have to be aggressive.”

But Talakai’s biggest opponent looms on Sunday when he sits down to breakfast with his six-year-old son, Tevita.

“He’s a Souths fan,” Talakai smiled. “If I win, I can give it to him.”

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