Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen says Friday night’s preliminary final against North Queensland will be the biggest game of his career.
The Sharks received a massive boost on the eve of their do or die clash with the Cowboys with the club announcing Gallen has signed a one-year contract extension.
The 35-year-old will wear the black, white and blue – most likely for one last season – in 2017.
Gallen has been in near career best form this season, leading Cronulla’s fearsome forward pack to a club-record winning streak and top three finish – and one game away from the club’s first grand final in 20 years.
Gallen has recovered from a back injury that ruled him out of Cronulla’s gutsy qualifying final victory over Canberra a fortnight ago and will take his place in a Sharks side that are out to make history.
“This Friday is the most important game of our career. We’ll play that and give it our all and hopefully get the win,” he said.
“The week off did us a world of good. We’ll be really, really fresh come Friday.
“The Cowboys are going to come out and try and blow us off the park. I think that’s the only way they can beat us. If we combat that and play to our strengths we’ll win.”
Gallen, who signed his first contract with the Sharks as a teenager in 1999, made his first grade debut in 2001 before going on to play 277 games for Cronulla as well as representing Australian and captaining NSW.
Despite the delay in making the announcement, Gallen said there had been no doubt he would go around for one more year.
“Definitely pleased. There was never really any doubt it was going to happen,” he said.
“I wasn’t really focused on chasing it up. [I was] more focused on playing the games at the moment and getting wins. Obviously the past couple of weeks I’ve had a sore back so I’ve been focusing on that.
“There was never any doubt I was going to play here next year. It’ll probably be my last year. You never say never in this game, you never know what’s going to happen but [I’m] certainly excited to be here for another year.
“I love the club, love the area. [I’ve] played all my career here, made Australia [and] NSW from playing at this club. We’re in a really good position at the moment to hopefully get to a grand final and win our first premiership.”