Paul Gallen is expected to take the field for the majority of the Sharks' remaining games in 2014 despite scans confirming he has torn his bicep. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Sharks skipper Paul Gallen will play again for Cronulla this season after scans on his injured bicep revealed he will not require surgery.
Gallen tore his upper right bicep in Sunday's 31-18 loss to Newcastle and it was feared the influential NSW and Kangaroos representative would miss the rest of the NRL season.
But in some rare good news for the Sharks in 2014, Gallen will play again this year.
"Early indications are he won't require surgery," a Sharks official told AAP on Monday.
Gallen will consult a specialist on Monday afternoon when a full diagnosis will be known.
The injury isn't as severe as that suffered by Wests Tigers playmaker Braith Anasta, who underwent surgery on a bicep complaint last week that may have ended his 15-year NRL career.
However Gallen's problem is worse than that of Manly forward Anthony Watmough who has managed to play through much of the year with a bicep problem.
Watmough will return from a three-game suspension for a dangerous throw on Nate Myles in State of Origin II last month in Manly's Round 19 clash with St George Illawarra next Monday.
The Sharks are no chance of qualifying for the NRL final series but with eight regular season rounds remaining Gallen could be expected to play the majority of those.
After their past two brilliant comebacks, the shoe was on the other foot for the team from the Shire after they lost to the Knights despite holding an 18-0 lead after 36 minutes.
While they have been the team to make the astounding comebacks against the Broncos and Roosters, the Sharks were run over by the Knights in the second half in a loss that leaves them sitting dead last on the competition ladder.
"It was polar opposites compared to last week," interim Sharks coach James Shepherd said after the loss. "We said at halftime nothing should change, in particular our attitude, and right from that very first kick-off [in the second half] when we didn't claim the ball we seemed to be in quick sand."
"We couldn't get anything going and I suppose if last week was the unwinnable game then today was the opposite of that. We just seemed to give away way to many metres in defence and they were good enough.
"It hurts. I mean if you look at all the photos in the newspaper last week, how happy they were, they are the complete opposite today which is really disappointing."
Compounding the Sharks' loss were the injuries to captain Gallen and vice-captain Wade Graham (collarbone) who left the field of play at the exact same time, moments before Knights captain Kurt Gidley levelled the playing field at 18-all. Although both men returned later in proceedings, the damage was already done.
"If we are up by plenty or down by plenty [Gallen] might come off and have a rest but he's an 80-minute player and we weren't planning to bring him off but obviously he needed to sort out his bicep," coach James Shepherd said.
"Wade was a bit the same, he's an 80-minute player, and they both happened in a period when we were battling and didn't get much footy and when we got them back out there, you might have noticed Michael Lichaa didn't get back out there for a second stint [because we had no more interchanges left] which is again unfortunate.
Positive news for the Sharks though was the return of Andrew Fifita after early season ankle and wrist troubles in an effort that saw the Australian international produce 117 metres and 34 tackles.
"Andrew is a different sort of player. He breaks tackles and managed a one-on-one strip. He was pretty good for us and he'll get better. He played some decent minutes for his first game back."
With the Sharks facing a short turnaround before their Round 19 fixture against the North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night, they'll now look to get off the foot of the ladder against a team who hasn't won a game away from home since Round 25, 2013.