Sharks invoke tough spirit of Gal to beat injury crisis

Scott Bailey |

Cronulla are hoping a mural revealed on Thursday will inspire the injury-riddled Sharks.
Cronulla are hoping a mural revealed on Thursday will inspire the injury-riddled Sharks.

Cronulla captain Cameron McInnes has urged Sharks players to invoke the tough and gritty ethic of Paul Gallen, as they fight through an early-season injury crisis.

The Sharks will be without four first-choice forwards for Sunday’s clash with Canberra, after a horror week for the club that included a belting from Wests Tigers.

Veteran forward Dale Finucane visited a surgeon on Thursday and is at risk of missing up to four weeks after fracturing his eye socket against the Tigers.

Toby Rudolf has avoided surgery on a syndesmosis injury but will miss between three and six weeks, while Royce Hunt (calf) is out for a month and Braden Hamlin-Uele (knee) still sidelined.

The Sharks attempted to put their issues to the side on Thursday by unveiling a mural of Paul Gallen and Andrew Ettingshausen, showing the pair’s embrace after the maiden 2016 premiership win.

And McInnes said the Sharks needed to adopt the same toughness as Gallen’s old side in fighting through the current period.

“This club is built on hard work, and it’s got that legacy,” McInnes said. 

“So we don’t need to wait for some adversity for that to come to the front. But we’ll definitely need that this week. 

“And we’ll be backing ourselves to come out with a hard performance regardless of who’s on the field.”

McInnes labelled Gallen as one of the most universally recognised hard-working players in the NRL this century.

And current players are well aware it was one of the hallmarks of the club’s only premiership team.

“The last few years since Fitzy (coach Craig Fitzgibbon) has come in, he’s been big on like learning the history of the club,” McInnes said.

“It’s very important. He takes us through guys that have paved the way. 

“Obviously, Gal’s at the forefront of that. 

“But there’s also plenty of other Sharks players that have bled for the club that we’ve all learnt about. That’s always dripped into us.”

Gallen had been clear when he retired in 2019 that the Sharks needed to return to being a side built on grittiness. 

And he said on Thursday he believed the club had gone some way to doing that.

“There’s probably a bit to go there,” Gallen said. 

“That’s what we were known for. They went away from a little bit over the years. 

“But without doubt, when you watch the first couple of weeks, particularly the (come-from-behind) Warriors win. They’ve definitely gotten back to it.

“I hope they’ve got enough grit and determination this weekend to get the job done. And I think they do.”