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Selection headache looms for finals-bound Sharks

Darren Pateman/AAP PHOTOS

Cronulla are facing a fullback selection conundrum days out from their NRL elimination final with both Will Kennedy and Connor Tracey vying to be fit for the clash against the Sydney Roosters.

The Sharks had been staring down the possibility of needing to play rookie Daniel Atkinson at fullback in their most important game of the year after Tracey limped off late in Sunday's defeat of Canberra.

But scans this week revealed the best-case scenario for Tracey, who has been cleared of any damage to his knee.

"I literally just jarred the joint a little bit so it was a bit of a precaution to take me off and ice it up," Tracey said.

"Lots of things could have come up from the scan but it's best case. There's nothing there."

The news is a major boost for the Sharks, whose upswing in form has coincided with Tracey replacing Will Kennedy in round 22 when the first-choice custodian went down with a hamstring injury.

But while the Sharks finished last week fearing neither of their fullbacks would be fit, they may soon be forced to choose between them as Kennedy nears recovery.

Tracey has been named fullback for Saturday's clash at Shark Park but Kennedy is listed in the extended squad so could make a last-minute switch into the side.

Both men will undergo fitness tests during the Sharks' biggest training session of the week on Wednesday.

Kennedy has been the Sharks' preference in the No.1 jersey for four seasons and had been in strong form to begin 2023.

But Tracey has averaged over 200 metres in the five games since the switch and won the Paul Green Medal as man of the match against North Queensland in round 25.

"It would be nice to have the exact same spine we've been going with for the last few weeks," said Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes.

"But hopefully Connor pulls through and, if Connor can't, hopefully Will pulls through.

"Otherwise I don't know what we're going to do.

"Connor's been playing great footy and he deserves the right to be playing.

"(But) Will's a first-class, NRL fullback. He was in the top three fullbacks in the competition for the first half of the year.

"We're just very fortunate to have two great fullbacks at the club." 

Making the wrong selection call could thwart the Sharks as they look to bounce back from last year's disappointing finals series.

After finishing second on the ladder, Cronulla fell to the Cowboys in extra time of the corresponding home final before being bundled out by South Sydney a week later.

"The Rabbitohs game, we weren't really in it at all, but that Cowboys game was something I held onto for the whole off-season," Hynes said.

"I'm pretty open in saying that I hired a mindset guy who helped me with those sorts of things.

"He puts things in place every day to make sure I'm not sitting there thinking about things I don't need to be thinking about.

"I'll learn from those experiences, but you've just got to look forward now and that's the Roosters."