NRL finals to cure heartbroken Gallen
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan says the prospect of NRL finals football can help Paul Gallen overcome another heartbreaking State of Origin loss.
NSW captain Gallen has spoken of his mental exhaustion following the draining 2-1 series loss to the Maroons, but Flanagan is confident the Sharks’ chances of a top-four finish will reinvigorate his weary skipper.
“In past years, Gal might have come out of Origin and thought ‘oh no, we have a big job here to win seven of nine games just to make the finals’, but things are different this year. We have a genuine shot at a top-four finish,” Flanagan told AAP on Friday.
“I’ve been there myself (as assistant NSW coach) a few years ago and, coming out of it, there is that letdown.
“But this year we are looking forward to a big finish to our year. Finals football is our goal and we are in position to earn that top-four finish.
“There is a lot of emotion involved in Origin, but Gal will get over that and see that there is something here to play for.”
Gallen made his Origin debut in 2006, and took on the more-demanding mental burden of the NSW captaincy last year.
Cronulla have not made the finals since 2008 when they finished fourth.
Gallen and NSW five-eighth Todd Carney returned to Sharks training on Friday and Flanagan said they would both be right to play the Roosters on Monday night.
“They are fine,” Flanagan said.
“They both know that there is a lot more footy in our year and that is our focus from here on in. We are all really excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Gallen battled a knee injury during the Origin series and was rested by the Sharks between the second and third interstate games.
Flanagan said he was concerned about the high workload of his skipper but was confident it could be managed effectively.
“We have done that, we have given him a bit of a rest and we have to continue to manage him and address it as the year goes on,” Flanagan said.
“But results control these things.”
Cronulla’s physical style of play stunned Brisbane in their last start and Flanagan said that would continue.
“The thing is I think we have been playing like that for a while and it was just highlighted by a couple of efforts against Brisbane,” he said.
“Isaac De Gois was one player who really stepped up with that style of play and it is how we enjoy playing our footy.”© AAP 2013