St George Illawarra Dragons winger Jason Nightingale believes the team will be playing for bragging rights when they host the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah on Sunday.
The New Zealand international notes that the playing group will enter the encounter as ‘underdogs’ but notes that form is thrown out the window during derby fixtures.
The Red-and-Whites suffered a narrow 12-8 loss to the Brisbane Broncos last round in a game which saw local Hurstville United junior Luciano Leilua make his first-grade debut for the Club.
Both he and fellow teammate Taane Milne have been welcome additions to the make-up of the team in recent weeks according to Nightingale and he is keen to watch the development of both players.
“Going up against the Sharks will be a great challenge for us as obviously they’re sitting at the top of the table and have a lot of momentum while we’re at the opposite end of the spectrum,” said Nightingale.
“With derbies though it is quite often the under-dog who steps up and I think we will be driving that throughout the week.
“We do have a lot to prove and we aim to salvage some reprieve and get some confidence for the rest of the season.
“It was a very grindy type of game against the Broncos as a result of the weather conditions and it being up against a Wayne Bennett-coached side.
“I think field position is where they got the better of us and that they kept us camped out in our own end which made it a tough battle and unfortunately we weren’t able to get across the line.
“We coped alright with the conditions out there despite the weather and at times our attack came into shape and we created some things.
“Luciano held his own out there and you could see that the halves got him some ball early on which in turn helped him grow his confidence and create a few opportunities of his own.
“It’s great to see a player like that playing well for the Under 20s get his opportunity and I have no doubt he will play plenty of first-grade in the future.
“Taane too is going from strength to strength and I’m really enjoying playing outside of him at the moment and seeing the energy that he brings.
“He is another guy who will be playing a lot of first-grade for years to come.”