'Touch wood that he is okay' - Paul Gallen in doubt for Sharks' tilt at NRL title

Cronulla are bracing for the prospect of being without inspirational captain Paul Gallen for Friday night's blockbuster NRL preliminary final showdown with the Melbourne Storm.

Gallen suffered a shoulder injury in the second half of the Sharks' heart- stopping 21-20 semi-final win over Penrith and is racing the clock to be fit for the grudge match with their 2016 grand final rivals at AAMI Park.

"Gal is just a wait and see. We will get a scan. Touch wood that he is okay but it is a bit unknown," Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said.

"When Gal doesn't come back on, I am real concerned. He usually can just go in and get it strapped up and battle on. For him not to come back in a big semi- final is a bit concerning."

At 37, Gallen delivered one of his best performances of the season before the Sharks needed a Chad Townsend field goal five minutes from fulltime to avoid a shattering loss after having led the Panthers 18-0 at Allianz Stadium.

The Sharks are also sweating on fellow forward enforcer Luke Lewis to recover from a calf injury, but the retiring veteran insists he'll be "sweet"

"I'll be fine mate, to be honest with you," Lewis told AAP.

"I've just got to get through the next couple of days, get all the swelling down.

"But it's just a cork in a crappy position. It is what it is, though. I'm not too stressed about it."

The Sharks are one of the few teams to have the wood over Melbourne, not only famously beating the Storm in the grand final two years ago to win the club's elusive maiden premiership, but also conquering Craig Bellamy's team twice already this season.

"I am obviously excited about it," Flanagan said of the latest match-up for a berth in the 2018 title decider against either the Sydney Roosters, South Sydney or St George Illawarra.

"We have had some great tussles with them obviously from the (2016) grand final. They have been fantastic games.

"We have been lucky enough to win some and unlucky on a couple of occasions or they have been too good for us.

"It is a real challenge going down there on the back of Melbourne having a week off. They will be fresh.

"They will have some players back from suspension (Will Chambers) and injury (Nelson Asofa-Solomona) so we will have to be on our game if we are going to play in the grand final."

Paul Gallen of the Sharks Source: Getty


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'See what happens' - Storm skipper Cameron Smith could retire after NRL Grand Final

Cameron Smith has hinted he would consider retiring alongside teammate Billy Slater if Melbourne win next week's NRL grand final.

In a puzzling epilogue to Melbourne's 22-6 preliminary final win over Cronulla, the rugby league Immortal-in-waiting admitted retirement wasn't out of the question with a fifth grand final win next Sunday.

Quizzed on whether he was serious about his stance Smith said he still intended on playing on in 2019 but wouldn't rule out changing his mind.

"I don't know, if we were to win it. If we were to go and play well next week, I don't know. You'd consider it," Smith said when asked if there would be a temptation to retire with Slater.

"Maybe. I don't know.

"I don't have a contract for next year yet ... We'll just get through the week first and see what happens."

"Players finish up all the time and new players come in and you start writing about them.

"I've got all intention of going around next year, you guys posed the question to me. If we were to win would you consider it?

"I don't know, we win first and we'll see what happens. At this stage I want to play on.

"Does that clear it up for you? Clear as mud."

The comments come after Smith has long indicated he wanted to play next season after his shock decision to retire from representative football just weeks out from State of Origin earlier this year.

Reports also emerged this week he was close to finalising a deal with the Storm for next year that would likely see him become the first game to reach the 400-game mark.

The old firm of Smith and Slater stood tall on Friday night in their last game together at AAMI Park, combining for the try just before halftime which put the game beyond doubt.

"I was a bit nervous about the outcome (of the preliminary final) for Billy," Smith said.

"This week I've been having small moments to myself on the training paddock where I'm doing extras with Bill.

"I've been thinking I would love another chance to have another week on the paddock with him."

Storm skipper Cameron Smith celebrates his drop goal. Source: Getty


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