The Sharks’ poor record against the competition’s top teams was exposed in 2023, when Cronulla lost six of their seven games against finals-bound teams.
Currently sitting sixth on the ladder, the Sharks are due to play finals in 2023.
However, Slater believes that the Sharks’ chances of winning the trophy this season are slim, as the players’ frustration at the back end is affecting their performance on the pitch.
“The Sharks are very disappointed at the moment,” Slater told Nine’s The Billy Slater Podcast.
“Their performance in the first 55 minutes against Manly was very poor.
“[Cronulla] They can play very well against the lower ones but when they face the top eight teams they have a problem… They have had this problem for 18 months now.
“They don’t want to play the hard game right now.”
The Sharks have had a difficult run at home in the last six games, taking on three title contenders, including reigning champions Penrith Panthers.
Slater said the biggest weakness that needs to be addressed for the Sharks is their defense, adding that their attacking game is “one of the best in the competition.”
Watch the NRL 2023 premiership live and for free 9 Now
Hynes police are challenging the ref
Slater suggested the Sharks should emulate the style of the 2003 Panthers premiership winning team, based on the idea that no matter how many points the opposition score, they will score more.
“I know Craig Fitzgibbon is trying to instill a defensive mentality at this club and that’s the right thing to do, but we’ve got six weeks to go until the final,” Slater said.
“… They have one of the best teams in the competition. I can try and just go let’s go back to the Penrith Panthers of 2003. [tactics].
“Everyone knows that defense wins premierships and defense makes you a successful team… [but] we know that our defense is probably our Achilles heel.
“Let’s play our football, let’s try to win this premiership one way or another.
“Let’s attack… forget about our defense
“There are a number of ways to play the game. That might be something he wants to look at.”
“If [they] switch to a good position and score points, we will be hard to beat. “
For daily updates and exclusive news from the Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter written by click here!