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Sharks will get better, says Sharp

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, AAP - Fearing the worst and hoping for the best has very much become a way of life at Cronulla
Sharks will get better, says Sharp
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, AAP - Fearing the worst and hoping for the best has very much become a way of life at Cronulla.

But at least the Sharks will start the 2014 NRL season knowing they cope well with prolonged uncertainty and speculation and their expectations are high.

It's been more than a year since the 'darkest day in Australian sport' when anti-doping agency ASADA began a probe centred around the club's 2011 supplements program.

None of the 10 players interviewed by ASADA last year have learned if they have cause for concern as the investigation drags on.

However, the NRL have taken action against the club over governance issues, slapping them with a million dollar fine and suspending coach Shane Flanagan for 12 months along with the Sharks' former strength and conditioning coach Trent Elkin.

The pair are appealing the verdicts, but until the matter is resolved Peter Sharp has replaced Flanagan.

The 59-year-old former Manly and Hull FC coach is very much the reluctant stand-in and says he'd be happy to return to his role as Flanagan's No.2.

"It is what it is, and everyone at this club is just pitching in and doing their best," Sharp says.

Despite the turmoil of last year, Cronulla enjoyed their best season since 2008, finishing fifth and reaching the second week of the finals where they lost narrowly to Manly.

"We are confident we can go better this year," Sharp said.

"We have a seasoned group of players and they've had to get to used to a difficult situation.

"But we feel we are better for the experience of last year and we will start the season confident that we can improve on last season."

Sharp is confident key playmaker Todd Carney will be fit for the round one clash with the Gold Coast at Remondis Stadium after injuring his hamstring during the Auckland Nines.

Luke Lewis is the only regular starter who's unlikely to be ready to start the season as he continues his rehabilitation from reconstruction surgery after dislocating his shoulder during Australia's World Cup campaign.

The 30-year-old NSW back-rower is expected to be back in action for the round four clash with Newcastle.

Sharp also has high hopes for new recruit Blake Ayshford who became the latest of string of Wests Tigers players to make the switch to the Sutherland Shire.

The centre is reunited with former teammates Andrew Fifita, Bryce Gibbs, Beau Ryan, John Morris and Chris Heighington and Sharp believes the 23-year-old can kick-start his career with his new club.

"He's trained very well and he probably needed a change of environment to kick along," he said.

"I thought he was outstanding in the nines and we hope he can take that into the new season."

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