SYDNEY - Fearing the worst and hoping for the best has very much become a way of life at Cronulla.
But at least the Sharks will start the 2014 NRL season knowing they cope well with prolonged uncertainty and speculation and their expectations are high.
It's been about a year since the "darkest day in Australian sport" when anti-doping agency ASADA began a probe centred around the club's 2011 supplements program.
None of the 10 players interviewed by ASADA last year have learned if they have cause for concern as the investigation drags on.
However, the NRL have taken action against the club over governance issues, slapping them with a million dollar fine and suspending coach Shane Flanagan for 12 months along with the Sharks' former strength and conditioning coach Trent Elkin.
The pair are appealing the verdicts, but until the matter is resolved Peter Sharp has replaced Flanagan.
The 59-year-old former Manly and Hull FC coach is very much the reluctant stand-in and says he'd be happy to return to his role as Flanagan's No.2.
"It is what it is, and everyone at this club is just pitching in and doing their best," Sharp says.
Despite the turmoil of last year, Cronulla enjoyed their best season since 2008, finishing fifth and reaching the second week of the finals where they lost narrowly to Manly.
"We are confident we can go better this year," Sharp said.
"We have a seasoned group of players and they've had to get to used to a difficult situation.
"But we feel we are better for the experience of last year and we will start the season confident that we can improve on last season."
Sharp is confident key playmaker Todd Carney will be fit for the round one clash with the Gold Coast at Remondis Stadium after injuring his hamstring during the Auckland Nines.