Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan is urgently looking for quality backs prepared to make a mid-season switch to the NRL club.

Flanagan was quick to pinpoint his side’s main weakness after Friday night’s 31-12 loss to South Sydney, the Sharks’ fifth straight defeat.

Out of favour Canterbury utility Ben Roberts has been linked to Cronulla but Flanagan said finishers were his top priority, a problem made bigger by the potential long-term loss of 2011 recruit John Williams with ankle ligament damage.

As well as winger Williams, Flanagan brought veteran centre Colin Best back to the club this season while former Wests Tigers regular first grader Dean Collis is languishing in the NSW Cup.

The Sharks also sent out a mid-season SOS last year when ex-coach Ricky Stuart parachuted former NRL rookie of the year Tim Smith into the halves.

That move was far from a raging success and Smith played his first top level match of 2011 on Friday night because of an injury to Albert Kelly.

Whiz kid fullback Nathan Gardner was rushed back from an ankle injury to take on the Rabbitohs and hobbled through the match but he is expected to be in much better shape for the clash with the Sydney Roosters after next weekend’s bye.