2 Oct 2016

Sharks embrace underdog tag

12:44 pm on 2 October 2016

Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has embraced the team's underdog status for Sunday's National Rugby League grand final against the Melbourne Storm.

Paul Gallen plays for the Sharks against the Warriors in 2013.

Sharks captain Paul Gallen Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Sharks will start as slight outsiders against the Storm at Sydney's ANZ Stadium - a position Flanagan said the minor premiers deserved given their dominance over the past decade.

Asked if Melbourne were favourites to claim the title, Flanagan said: "without a doubt."

Flanagan has described Melbourne as the most consistent team of the past decade and said when the club begun its rebuild from the drugs scandal that brought them to their knees, the Storm were the club they wanted to emulate.

"When we talk about two years ago, when we started to talk about where we wanted to be as a club, Melbourne was one of the clubs we looked at," Flanagan said.

Shane Flanagan

Shane Flanagan Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"Ever since Cooper (Cronk), Cameron (Smith) and Billy (Slater) started their career down there, for me they've been the most consistent team year after year."

"I know they had some competitions taken off them, but we all know that doesn't take away from the football they've put out on the park.

"We do admire them as a club and look at them as the benchmark club. But come Sunday, we'll be taking the gloves off, that's for sure."

Despite owning a dodgy back for the past month, captain Paul Gallen said he was ready to carry the weight of the club's 50-year wait for a Premiership on his shoulders.

It was the first time Gallen will play in a decider after three preliminary final attempts.

"It hasn't been a burden whatsoever. It should be enjoyable," he said.

"It's a great honour to play in this game, been a long time coming for myself. Three grand final qualifiers, it took the third one to win it. Now we're here so we've got to make the most of it."