Cronulla's unknown rookies have been told to "bring the energy" as they prepare to help the Sharks avoid the club's first wooden spoon in 45 years against the Raiders on Sunday. 

With Paul Gallen, Anthony Tupou and Nathan Gardner suspended and a host of other stars including Luke Lewis, Andrew Fifita and Bryce Gibbs injured, Sharks coach James Shepherd is set to grant debuts to at least two players.

It is understood back-rowers Sione Masima, Scott Sorensen and Patrice Siolo are under consideration to play their first NRL game. 

Shepherd said he had challenged the youngsters but refused to name who would come into the side to replace Gallen and Tupou. 

"It's pretty clear we want them to provide energy and enthusiasm and the senior players to provide leadership and structure," Shepherd said. "The 17 boys that trained the last couple of days have been really good and focused on footy. 

"They want to play footy and don't want to be caught up in the other distractions. When we've spoken footy it's been about Canberra's strengths and weaknesses and how best to exploit their weaknesses" 

Masima and Sorensen are Cronulla juniors with Sorensen's uncles Dane and Kurt having played more than 300 combined games for the Sharks during the 1980s. Siolo is still eligible for the under-20s.

"The boys that will make their debuts are about to live out a boyhood dream," Shepherd said. "They are excited. When one bloke gets injured or suspended or misses selection another bloke has to take his place and that bloke is itching for an opportunity.

"Footy players play for respect as much as they play for winning. With good performances and respect from your teammates and opposition only good things can come of that."

Eighteen players including Todd Carney, Beau Ryan and Isaac De Gois are unavailable from the squad which started in pre-season at the Sharks.

It means Cronulla have had to call upon part-time players including Tim Robinson, Pat Politoni and Junior Roqica to train full-time. 

Youngster Valentine Holmes has been one of the few shining lights in an otherwise dull season for the club.

"He has been switching between fullback and the right wing and has been doing a good job,": Shepherd said. "It's part of the young guys' development and you have to get through those stage of your career and keep improving." 

Cronulla's battle against the Raiders will almost certainly decide the wooden spoon as both teams are equal last on the competition ladder.

"We don't really talk about those things," Shepherd said. "We need to play positively and not play to avoid losing." 

Halfback Jeff Robson will again captain the side in Gallen's absence.