With fitness concerns still lingering over the back injury of Sharks skipper Paul Gallen, one thing is for certain – the week off can only be a positive for him and his teammates.
Cronulla vice-captain Wade Graham is still on light duties after a concussion ended his game against Canberra after just seven minutes on Saturday, but with a follow-up cognitive test this week he's hoping to be back in full training by Thursday to allow him a smooth preparation heading into a preliminary final against either the Broncos or Cowboys.
"I'm fine... I came in the next day with the doctor and passed the test we do straight after the game and just taking it easy so far," Graham said at Sharks training on Tuesday.
"Unfortunately it's something you need to take a bit of time with the new protocols but lucky for me we have the week off and I've been able to take it really easy these few days. [On Wednesday I'll] take it easy again then Thursday do the test; if all goes well with that, back into full training and won't miss a beat."
Graham said while Gallen was always a huge loss, the form of lesser lights such as Matt Prior and Kurt Capewell was a positive for the club.
"[Gallen] is good. He started moving again at the beginning of this week. It probably would have been touch and go again if we had to play an elimination final this week but I don't think he would have missed it," Graham said of his skipper.
"But it gives him that bit of extra time to rest that back of his, get moving and get back into a bit of rhythm and be right for next game.
"It's definitely a concern for him. It's something that he'll have to take care of, his body, and get a feel for. Lucky for him he's played a lot of games and a lot of big games – Origins, Test matches. Preparation won't be a worry for him, it's just getting his body right and if he gets it right come game day he'll be ready to go no doubt about that.
"A back issue is never good and because it's an old disc issue it's probably frustrating for him. He wasn't moving that great last week when we saw him and he's only started to move a bit this week so it's something he'll definitely have to take care if."
While Graham admitted Gallen's presence always boosted the confidence of the Sharks he said other forwards in the team proved last week they can step up when needed.
"The boys certainly showed on the weekend if players in our team go down there's other players who can step up. Matty Prior, it's been well spoken about how great he was, Andrew Fifita was great. Kurt Capewell in his third game of NRL in a big semi-final game, to come on and play the way he did off the bench – probably only expecting to play 20 or 30 minutes – to play 75 and do it the way he did was pretty outstanding."
Game on. Data off.
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