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Sharks ready for mission impossible
Cronulla took care of a couple of hoodoos in their NRL season opening win over Manly last week, but coach Ricky Stuart knows completing the trifecta against Melbourne on Sunday is another proposition altogether.
The Sharks won for just the third time in the last 20 years at Brookvale Oval by eclipsing the Sea Eagles 16-10 in round one, the win the perfect start for a Sharks side facing five games away from home to start the season.
They now head to Olympic Park where reigning premiers the Storm have not been beaten since June 2006.
"Last week was a start - we definitely don't want to be 1-4 (by the time we get back home)," Stuart said.
"We've just got to go to Melbourne now and see where we stand in the face of that challenge.
"They started off well against the Warriors so it'll be a test."
The Sharks' opening round win not only shut the door on the curse of Brooky, but also buried the demons of 2007 when the Sharks found themselves being run down by opponents week after week in a frustrating first season at the club for Stuart.
Cronulla lost seven games by two points or less with most of those being come from behind efforts by their opponents, so holding off the Sea Eagles has given the club hope that it won't be another season of near misses.
"Last year we did get to a few leads and teams would rake us back a little bit," Stuart recalled.
"All of a sudden they'd come in with a field goal and boom it was all over.
"I think that creates a bit of desperation in our side too because you do want to be better at it."
While the Storm are virtually invincible a home, the Sharks did enjoy success in the Victorian capital in both 2004 and 2005.
Ross boarded the plane on Saturday and is expected to play despite being knocked out cold in the opening minutes of the win over the Sea Eagles, though fellow prop Jacob Selmes has travelled down with the side as a precautionary 18th man.
Hoffman passed a fitness test at training on Saturday and is also a likely starter, though the NSW Origin backrower may wear a special chest guard to protect the injury on Sunday.