Year of the Shark, says ex-Magpie

NATHAN Stapleton doesn’t remember much about Saturday night’s trial match win over the Newcastle Knights in Tamworth.

The Cronulla winger and Glen Innes Magpies junior, who hails from Deepwater, discovered that running head first into Knights, NSW and Australian winger Aku Uate at full tilt wasn’t such a great idea.

He was taken from the field with concussion but was okay after the match.

“I won’t lead with my head next time,” Stapleton said.

“When he’s got the ball he’s hard to stop.”

Stapleton is entering his sixth year with the Sharks.

After going to boarding school in Queensland the now 23-year-old moved to Cronulla and made his way through the grades.

Having debuted in 2009 he has now played almost 50 first grade games on the wing.

Last year was a successful season for the club but after finishing in the top four it lost two straight semi-finals and bombed out of the playoffs.

This year the Sharks are aiming higher, and with Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon, Beau Ryan and Jonathan Wright added to the squad they have the personnel to give the title a shake.

“We’ve signed really well,” Stapleton said.

“We’ve got more depth than we’ve had the last couple of years.

“We’re not here to just be a top eight contender.

“We want to be top four and above.”

The Stapleton clan are all pretty handy sportspeople.

Nathan’s older brother Brett played rugby union sevens for Australia and for the Western Force but returned home to help Glen Innes win the Group 19 title last year.

Meanwhile young Perry Stapleton is one of the best junior cricketers on the Northern Tablelands and played for the Central North U16s this summer.

“I like to get home,” Nathan said.

“It’s good to come home and relax a bit. I’ve got two brothers and a half brother.

“Perry is right into his cricket and he’s very good.”

But there’s no time to relax now.

The first competition game is less than two weeks away.

Cronulla faces the Gold Coast in round one.

“The pre-season is over,” Nathan said. “Everyone’s pretty happy about that.

“The next week will be pretty tough still, but then we’ll probably have a more quiet week in the lead-up to the Titans game.”

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