Paul Gallen has set the tone for an explosive showdown with former teammate Kade Snowden on Monday night, describing the former Test and NSW prop's decision to leave Cronulla as a blessing in disguise.
Snowden sensationally turned his back on the Sharks last season when he abandoned a press conference intended to announce his re-signing with the club before linking with Newcastle and master coach Wayne Bennett.
That loss was compounded by the departure of fellow representative front-rower Luke Douglas, who signed with Gold Coast, leaving Cronulla without their one-two punch up front.
But what initially appeared to be a devastating blow to the Sharks' finals ambitions has turned out to be anything but - with coach Shane Flanagan astutely replacing two high-profile players with Ben Ross, Andrew Fifita, Bryce Gibbs, Jon Green and Mark Taufua.
While Snowden has struggled with form and injury in 2012, his replacements at the shire club have helped propel Cronulla to the edge of the top four with just four matches remaining.
"We couldn't ask for better," Gallen told AAP.
"Obviously Snowy and Luke Douglas last year were high profile guys for this club and were going to demand some pretty big money.
"We were obviously really upset when we lost them but it's turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
"Instead of keeping those two we've picked up six. And those six are going really well, guys like Fifita, Bryce Gibbs and Ben Ross.
"The blokes we've brought in have done a great job all year.
"We're all fine (with Snowden). He had to make a decision for himself and his family.
"There's no hard feelings about what Snowdy did."
Snowden returns to the field to face the Sharks at Hunter Stadium after missing five weeks with a knee injury and Gallen is all too aware that his former teammate will be primed for a big performance.
"I'm sure he would've been doing his best to come back for this game," Gallen said.
"Maybe he would've had last week off just to make sure he was back for this game because it's his old club and you always like playing against your old club.
"He's going to be up for a big game."
The Snowden sideshow could play a significant role in the outcome of the match which could secure Cronulla a finals berth.
A victory would lift them to 29 points, three ahead of eighth-placed Wests Tigers, with three rounds to go.
And Gallen believes the forwards battle against a Knights pack that also boasts former representative players Willie Mason, Neville Costigan, Zeb Taia and Danny Buderus will be crucial.
"The forward battle in every game is key," he added.
"Whoever gets the points in the battle up front will go a long way towards winning the game."