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Jasper Bruce

We won't underestimate Tigers: Sharks coach Fitzgibbon

Craig Fitzgibbon (l) is pleased to have Nicho Hynes (r) firing for Cronulla's visit to Wests Tigers. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Cronulla have been warned to not take the beleaguered Wests Tigers lightly, with Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon insisting Tim Sheens' side will be primed to bounce back after last week's 74-0 thrashing from North Queensland.

The Tigers' trip to Townsville last Saturday ended in the competition's heftiest defeat since 1935, intensifying scrutiny on the club's coaching succession plan and a lack of depth in the halves.

Wests leaked 13 tries, struggling to contain the Cowboys' capacity to attack from long range and the ball-playing abilities of Tom Dearden and Scott Drinkwater.

After a patchy start to the season, the Sharks' attack has hit its stride in recent weeks, piling on 100 points in clashes against struggling Canterbury and St George Illawarra.

Like the Cowboys, the Sharks' spine is at its best playing eyes-up footy, with halfback Nicho Hynes appearing back to his Dally M-winning best following a slump in form.

But Fitzgibbon is preparing the Sharks for a Tigers side intent on righting last week's wrongs, pointing out Wests sprung an ambush on premiership heavyweights Penrith earlier in the year.

"It'll get picked apart this week, that performance (against the Cowboys)," he said.

"However they've been quite competitive for the majority of their games.

"They've also had some wins against strong opponents this season. We're not taking them lightly. You always show your opponent respect.

"We're expecting a response from them, as we received from the Dragons last week."

Tigers second-rower Isaiah Papali'i said his side's short turnaround into Thursday's match would work to their advantage.

"You've got to face it front on first and ... go through what went wrong for us," he said.

"(But) as soon as that game kicks off, we'll put it behind us and it'll all be forgotten.

"Defence is our mindset this week and just having a simple game plan so that when we do have the ball we're not turning it over with all the errors that we made on Saturday night."

The Sharks have lost Braden Hamlin-Uele (rib) and Dale Finucane (suspension) but welcome back fellow middle forward Toby Rudolf after a toe injury.

Rudolf made it through Newtown's NSW Cup clash last week and Fitzgibbon was pleased to include him in the side for the first time since round five.

"He's one of our more selfless middles in the way that he plays. That's important for your defence," Fitzgibbon said.

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