Retiring Gallen set for one more milestone

Paul Gallen will celebrate 200 games as Cronulla captain in Sunday's match with St George Illawarra.
Paul Gallen will celebrate 200 games as Cronulla captain in Sunday's match with St George Illawarra.

Between them they have four NRL premierships, 50 Tests, 54 State of Origin games, and almost 900 NRL matches.

But it looks as though only one of veteran trio James Maloney, Robbie Farah and Paul Gallen will be playing September football in their retirement season.

Maloney looked a beaten man after Penrith fumbled to defeat on Friday night, which came one night after Farah couldn't get on the field in a Wests Tigers loss.

That leaves the door open for Gallen, who will celebrate 200 games as Cronulla captain when the Sharks host St George Illawarra in Sunday's local derby.

It's not as if his teammates needed any more motivation.

Gallen's milestone and neighbourhood rivalries aside, Cronulla enter the contest knowing that a win would lift them to eighth spot with three games to go.

But they also know that defeat would bring the career of arguably the greatest player in Sharks history one step closer to an anticlimactic end.

"I'm trying not to think about that," rookie coach John Morris tells AAP.

Perhaps aware that the window may quickly be shutting on his fairytale finish, Gallen has been on a tear over the past three weeks.

In what has been an up-and-down season statistically, the 38-year-old has averaged 182 metres and 29 tackles in almost an hour a game since round 18.

They're the type of numbers fans are used to from their inspirational leader.

"I've certainly spoken to the boys about sending him out with the finish that he deserves. They want to send Gal out with the finale that he deserves," Morris said.

"And that's obviously to play finals footy, hopefully even holding the trophy up."

While Morris gets slick fullback Matt Moylan back from a concussion rest, the Sharks are without Andrew Fifita for a week due to a knee injury.

It continues a hellish season where Morris has been unable to field his first-choice 17-man line-up in any game so far this season.

"(Fifita) just had a niggling problem that's been there all year for him," Morris said.

"We just felt that we just give him a week to let it settle otherwise you're chasing your tail for the rest of the year and taking it - possibly - into a finals series."

Dragons coach Paul McGregor, who lost Tariq Sims for the final month to a groin injury, said the goal was simple for his team given their out of finals contention.

"Form goes out the window when these two teams clash," he said.

"The Sharks obviously are a good footy team, they'll need to win three of the next four, so it's an important game for them.

"We'll go up there with a bit of an attitude to spoil the party."


* Cronulla has conceded over half of its tries through the centre of the field (33 of 65), which is easily the most in the NRL.

* Cronulla is making the equal most errors in the NRL.

* Josh Morris, who started his career at the Dragons, scored his 11th try of the season last week, his highest tally since 17 in 2012.

Australian Associated Press