Hope on the line for Dragons and Sharks

Hope is the one thing every team has as they enter a new season.

Whether it be chasing that elusive finals berth or pushing up the ladder to contend for a premiership.

While hope is abundant at the beginning of round one, it can be quickly dashed with a poor showing.

St. George Illawarra and Cronulla Sharks fans will be looking to remain hopeful when the teams clash on Sunday night at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

Dragons fans will be optimistic that they can return to finals contention following the off-season’s major overhaul both on and off the field.

New coach Anthony Griffin steps up following Paul McGregor’s sacking after a couple of poor seasons.

While Ben Hunt will take over as captain after Cameron McInnes suffered an ACL injury days after announcing he was signing for Cronulla next season.

Leaders Tyson Frizzell and James Graham also departed the club in the offseason which paved the way for a host of new recruits and more opportunities for young players.

Experienced former Origin players Andrew McCullough and Jack Bird have joined the club will both make their debut on Sunday night.

Daniel Alvaro (Eels) and Poasa Faamausili (Roosters) will also debut.

Young gun Cody Ramsey will look to step up in a permanent role on the wing this season, while centre Zac Lomax will look to capitalise after his time in the New South Wales Origin set up.

Meanwhile Cronulla Sharks fans will be hoping their team can make the leap to be amongst this year’s contending teams.

The club has had a clear plan to develop the youth in their squad which was starting to pay dividends last season.

Players like Blayke Brailey, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Briton Nikora, Toby Rudolf, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Sione Katoa all established themselves as valuable first grade players but must take the next step in their development if the team is to move past the Elimination Final this year.

Pressure is mounting on coach John Morris as he enters his third and final year of his contract after back to back Elimination Final defeats.

With only one major recruit in former Bulldog prop Aiden Tolman and star playmaker Shaun Johnson missing at least the first month, the pressure will be on the Sharks group of youngsters to perform early.

While a loss may not force either teams’ fans to abandon all hope for the season, a win will go a long way in ensuring they remain hopeful long into the season.

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