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George Clarke

Late loss sharpens Talakai's finals focus

Siosifa Talakai says the Sharks' narrow loss to North Queensland has primed them for South Sydney. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

After getting through 93 minutes of work only to lose at the death, Siosifa Talakai claims Cronulla's last-gasp loss to North Queensland can steel them for bigger finals tests.

Talakai said he felt like he had been "run over by a truck" after getting through 21 carries in last weekend's 32-20 golden-point loss to the Cowboys.

The Sharks now face Souths at Allianz Stadium on Saturday and must win to ensure their promising first-year under Craig Fitzgibbon doesn't end in straight finals defeats.

"It was a good lung buster and gave me a reality check," Talakai told reporters.

"No team has done it (gone beyond 90 minutes) in a while and I don't think any other team has done it this year.

"If anything it's prepared us more for this game, it was a pretty good experience for us as a team.

"This week is more of a mental game - it's about attitude. I know we are all going to get up for it."

Talakai was busy all evening and had former teammate Chad Townsend to thank for waking up sore.

Townsend sent plenty of the Cowboys' kicks down to Talakai's winger Ronaldo Mulitalo and it meant the centre's impact was blunted.

When Mulitalo returned the ball, Talakai was the man forced to bear the brunt of the next hit-up early in the tackle count.

"We studied their game quite a bit and Chaddy has been their main kicker and we knew the ball would come to our edge," he said.

"It was a sight to see when their whole team is coming to smash you."

While the Cowboys currently have their feet up in Townsville awaiting a home preliminary final, Talakai is desperately nursing his.

The Sharks centre reaggravated a foot injury in their final-round defeat to Newcastle but was cleared to play against the Cowboys.

He has been regularly icing his ankle but insists he should be right to tackle Souths, a team Talakai knows well.

He used to compete against Hame Sele at shotput and was given his NRL debut by assistant coach John Morris.

But Talakai singled out former teammate, training partner and second-rower Keaon Koloamatangi as one of the Bunnies' key threats.

"He's very skilful and is very strong," Talakai said. "I think we've got to get him in numbers and not give him time to wind up and we've got to be aggressive."

But Talakai's biggest adversary looms on Sunday when he sits down for breakfast with his six-year-old son Tevita.

"He's a Souths fan," Talakai grins. "If I win I get to give it to him."

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