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Sharks captain Paul Gallen believes the club has recruited well for season 2011 … and the NRL All Stars voting supports that with the new trio all vying for a spot in the in the initial squad to be named next week.

While Gallen is the most favoured Shark with almost 6000 votes, former Dragon Jeremy Smith is almost certain to claim the second forward spot ahead of Anthony Tupou in first round voting for the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars match at the Gold Coast on February 12.

In the backs, Nathan Gardner looks to have one of the spots sewn up, but the battle for the second Cronulla back spot in the initial 64-man squad to be named next Wednesday (Dec 29) is extremely competitive with new recruits Colin Best and Wade Graham just in front of Tim Smith, Ben Pomeroy and John Morris.

“The last couple of years have been pretty tough for us,” said Gallen. “We could not have signed any better players, especially given the position the club has been in.

“We would never have been in a position to get someone like Greg Inglis … but we have been fortunate to get the best players we possibly could get with Jeremy Smith, Colin Best and Wade Graham.

“What we have learned in the past seasons is that it doesn’t matter what names you have and what you have done before, you have to go out and play as a team. That’s where we fell down at Cronulla during the season.”

Gallen does not return to training until January 10 following his stint with the Kangaroos in the Four Nations, but he visited his team-mates last week and was impressed with the new training facilities and the intensity of the training session.

He said the opportunity to play with some of his Four Nations opponents in the NRL All Stars team was enticing and he believes it is a great concept.

“I didn’t get to play last year, but from what I saw, it looked like they were going very hard,” Gallen said. “I’d like to be part of it for sure – if I’m picked.”

Cronulla fans have until next Tuesday (Dec 28) to put their selectors hat on and vote for the Sharks players they think should join captain Darren Lockyer and coach Wayne Bennett in the NRL All-Stars team for the February 12 match against the Indigenous All Stars.

The first round of NRL All Stars voting will result in a shortlist of 64 players, with Bennett indicating which positions he wants each of the players to be considered for, as well as outlining the make-up of the bench positions.

In stage two of the NRL All Stars voting, starting January 3, the public will be given the challenge of selecting one player from each of the 16 NRL clubs.

The 16 players chosen by the fans will join Australian and New Zealand Test captains Darren Lockyer and Benji Marshall in the team, with Bennett and the NRL All Stars coaching staff then selecting the remaining two players to form the 20-man squad.

Bennett said the biggest problem is that “all the players want to play” but there can only be one from each club (as decided by the public).

To vote, click here.

Overview of NRL All Stars voting:
- The first player to be chosen in the NRL All Stars team will be the player who scores the highest number of overall votes in a position.
- Once a player from one club is placed in the team, no other player from that club can be chosen.
- If a player withdraws from the team due to injury, he will be replaced by someone from the bench.
- The open bench spot will then be replaced by someone from the injured player’s club, with the new player having recorded the second highest number of votes from that club, either as a forward, back or utility, depending on the position needed for the bench.

Rugby League fans are also being reminded to secure their tickets for the 2011 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars, with about 3000 tickets remaining.

Tickets are available through Ticketek outlets, on 132 849 or click here.

New Zealand customers can call 0800 842 538 or +61 132 849.