CRONULLA Sharks stars captain Paul Gallen and Todd Carney yesterday insisted two special Sutherland Shire brothers walk out with them before they play their last NRL round game, against North Queensland Cowboys, at Toyota Stadium on Sunday.
The result of the match will decide if the Sharks remain sixth and get to host a semi-final next week at the Sydney Football Stadium, or finish seventh and play a semi elsewhere.
The boys are brothers Dane Cartwright, 16, and Matt, 13, whose ongoing battle with the debilitating and terminal illness known as juvenile batten disease has touched the Sharks and their supporters over many years.
Gallen, Carney and his team will don bright yellow and black socks in recognition of The Carty Boys Foundation set up to help the boys, now both blind, with fund-raising activities also arranged.
Gallen and Carney’s special fluro boots will also be auctioned on the club’s website to raise extra funds and Sharks sponsor Luxbet have donated $1000, plus $500 per try scored by either team and $1000 for each 40/20 kicked, again by either the Sharks or Cowboys.
‘‘It is the least we can can all do,’’ said Gallen when he and Carney met up with the boys yesterday at Toyota Stadium.
‘‘We’d love it if you boys can be our escorts on Sunday.’’
The brothers didn’t have to be asked twice, and both hugged their footballing heroes.
After the disappointment of losing Monday night’s game when Melbourne scored two tries in the final two minutes to snatch a 20-18 victory, Gallen insists his team needs to concentrate for the whole 80 minutes against Johnathan Thurston’s Cowboys.
‘‘We’re really up for this game, our last one of the season in front of our home crowd,’’ Gallen said.
‘‘We all know what the Cowboys are capable of, but we just need to concentrate on our own game.’’
Prop and new dad Ben Ross celebrates his return to the side on Father’s Day, after his wife Ranai gave birth to daughter Allegra yesterday morning.
Second rower Anthony Tupou also returns, while utility star Wade Graham has an outside chance of playing, although not selected.
Nathan Gardner is also available, even though Matt Wright has been selected at fullback while Ben Pomeroy and Stewart Mills are not yet 100 per cent.
Veteran Colin Best and youngster Tyson Frizell play their last home games in Cronulla Sharks colours in the Sharks v North Queensland clash at Toyota Stadium on Sunday.
Best, an Engadine Junior, has scored 38 tries at Toyota Stadium – the fifth most of all-time.
He is retiring as one of just 10 Cronulla players to feature in 100 games and score 50 tries for the club.
Frizell will join the Dragons but, like Best, will continue being involved in the Sharks’ finals campaign for 2012.
The Sharks under-20s team plays the earlier game but needs a big win — and losses to both St George and Melbourne — to have any hope of making the top-eight finals series.
?Sunday’s NRL Family Day will see a new Sharks jumping castle in operation on the hill, along with free face-painting, thunder sticks and a half-time kick-a-ball challenge, with four lucky dads picked out of the crowd.