It's 'must-win' time for Sharks: Gallen
Whether it's by nature or by nurture, Paul Gallen says a lot of things these days. And, given his standing as the captain of his state, we take it all in and treat it for what it is: as gospel.
So when his bottom-placed Sharks team faces a 2-7 hole, is missing their best playmaker, and is coming off another 'moral victory' – that is, when they don't put up a white flag – we all wonder, 'What do you do now?'
"Look, we've got an opportunity next week to get a win. It's a must-win game for us there," Gallen said after his side's 42-24 landslide to Parramatta.
"And then we've got Souths who are out Origin players. They're without Inglis obviously, and a couple of others.
"So if we can get the job done there and go into the bye, we can get back into the race. But the next couple become must-wins."
Only problem is that at this stage, they're all pretty much "must-wins". This is what happens when you win just one out of your first seven games – crunch time just came a lot earlier this year.
"Yeah it is – we've spoken about that the last couple of games. We really turned the corner against the Roosters [in Round 7] with the way we played and then obviously had a win against Penrith [in Round 8]," he said.
"I thought the bye come at a bad time for us and probably came at a good time for Parramatta. I thought they were starting to struggle and then obviously they got a rest.
"They've got a lot of inexperience in their side, but when they're fresh and they get enough ball, they're powerful blokes and [the bye] probably come at a good time for them."
What didn't come at a good time was what looked like a serious ankle injury to prop Andrew Fifita in the first half. The NSW incumbent went straight to Westmead Hospital for MRI scans.
"Syndesmosis, we suspect," said coach Peter Sharp. "We'll know more a bit later, he's having an MRI now as we speak."
And those reports on Monday morning of ASADA supposedly set to release show-cause notices to 60 players by the end of the week didn't arrive at an opportune time either.
"Oh mate, what do you do?" Gallen asks. "You guys know more than I do about it. We read about what you write. We don't know anything about it. We find out about it in the papers. You should ring ASADA they seem to tell everyone else but us."
Added coach Peter Sharp: "Timing was poor today, I thought. The article, the timing... very poor, for a team preparing for a football game at this level. What do you do?"
Well, we thought his skipper summed the answer up perfectly: "We've got to start winning. We've got to start stringing games together or pretty quickly it's going to be over."