The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The Sharks will be attempting to get their 2006 premiership campaign back on track after two successive losses when they take on the Sydney Roosters in a round 19 clash this Sunday. After an outstanding run of form which saw them win eight games from nine starts, the Sharks have slipped slightly in going down to the Broncos and Tigers in their previous two matches.
However despite the recent hiccups, the Sharks remain in fifth place on the NRL ladder, with a win against the struggling Roosters set to consolidate their position inside the top eight and help them push towards a spot in the all-important top four. Despite the loss to the Tigers, coach Stuart Raper has resisted making wholesale changes, with the only alteration to the team which went around last Sunday being the inclusion of Richard Villasanti on the interchange bench. The former New Zealand Warrior put in his best performance in Sharks colours playing in the Premier League last weekend and is deserving of his promotion. Utility Matt Hilder makes way for Villasanti. Up against the Sharks this Sunday afternoon is certain to be a determined Roosters outfit which would be hurting from recent media criticism. The Roosters have failed to make any significant impression in the 2006 season and are languishing in 14th position on the table with just five wins from 16 appearances. They will still bring an accomplished line up to Aussie Stadium this week, led by internationals Craig Wing, Braith Anasta, Adrian Morley and captain Craig Fitzgibbon. In an earlier encounter this season the Roosters managed to get the better of the Sharks, winning their round five match at Toyota Park by 28-24. In fact the Sharks have struggled somewhat against the Roosters in recent years, winning just once in the last ten matches between the two teams dating back to 2001. In the lower grades this week the Sharks will play the Newtown Jets in the Premier League, with that match scheduled for a 3.00pm on Saturday kick off. The Jersey Flegg game between the Sharks and Roosters will be played at Aussie Stadium prior to the NRL clash, with that match getting underway at 1.10pm. The referee for this weekends match will be Jason Robinson and their will be no live coverage of the game, with Fox Sports showing a replay at 6.00pm. In other Sharks news, there have been no further developments as to the signing of Cowboys centre Josh Hannay. The Origin centre is said to be keen to join the Sharks, with his management and Sharks CEO Greg Pierce continuing negotiations. Panther Craig Stapleton signed his two-year deal today and is excited about joining the Sharks for the 2007-2008 seasons. An experienced campaigner, Stapleton has played every game for the Penrith side to date in 2006.