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Paul Gallen in action against the Cowboys in Round 1 of the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership.

Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan is "praying" for some good news after skipper Paul Gallen limped from the field with a knee injury in Saturday's 20-14 loss to North Queensland.

The Sharks' unlucky leader got up limping following a tackle involving Michael Morgan and Ethan Lowe in the 65th minute, but the damage appeared to have been done before contact.

The nature of Gallen's injury is unknown but it is feared that the polarising lock forward has done ligament damage, which would keep him out for at least a number of weeks in what is widely considered to be his final year before retirement.

Post-game Flanagan would not speculate on the injury, but extended his well-wishes to one of league's most passionate characters

"He's hurt his knee, touch wood that it's not that bad," Flanagan said post-game.

"He's pretty dejected in the dressing room, but we won't know until he has scans.

"I don't really want to speculate… we will just pray for the best."

Despite conceding the game-deciding try five minutes from full-time, 34-year-old Gallen would have been proud of the way his side finished the game after his exit.

With new interchange rules coming into effect there were concerns as to the longevity of big packs such as Cronulla, but the Sharks did not miss a beat in their first hit-out.

Andrew Fifita (149 run metres) stamped his authority along with bench forward Jayson Bukuya (90m) in the second half, but the visitors just could not conjure a result.

While there is plenty of work to do in getting combinations to gel, Flanagan was more than happy with the effort of his charges.

"There definitely was plenty of heart, and it could have gone either way. The last 10 minutes was a scramble and we had an opportunity in the last set there," he said.

"I was proud of the way we played, we stood up.

"(North Queensland) are the premiers, they are the best team from last year. We were pretty good but we can get better as well.

"We defended really well. They throw a lot at you, the Cowboys. Their big men know their roles and JT out the back causes a lot of problems. But we defended that. There was a try off the kick and a last-tackle try as well. We probably put ourselves under a little bit of pressure in the first half and it probably played its toll in the end.

"I'm super proud of the effort and we'll only get better; there's a lot of improvement in us.

The Cowboys are not without their share of injury concerns, as veteran winger Antonio Winterstein (concussion) left the field 22 minutes from full-time following a head clash with teammate Gavin Cooper.


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