Stuart backs Gallen as Sharks captain - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stuart backs Gallen as Sharks captain

By Liam FitzGibbon 08/07/2008 03:11:43 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart has backed Paul Gallen to be the NRL club's long-term captain provided the fiery backrower can take control of his on-field temper.

Gallen has come under renewed fire for his aggressive style of play following his on-field antics - including giving away three crucial penalties - in last week's State of Origin loss to Queensland.

The performance has threatened Gallen's club captaincy with Stuart admitting last week there had been pressure from within the club to stand him down as captain.

But the coach on Tuesday gave his player a vote of confidence and said he was doing everything possible to ensure Gallen not only keeps the captaincy this year, but well into the future.

"What I'm doing at the moment is doing everything I possibly can with Paul to keep him captain," Stuart told Sydney radio station 2KY.

"Paul's an intelligent person and a very, very competitive person and I don't want to change that one iota.

"What I do need to change is just the way Paul thinks at certain stages of the game and when something doesn't go his way, he's just got to take it on the chin and roll on.

"He's the image of the team, he's the captain and he's got to lead by example."

Stuart said Gallen was a liked leader by all Sharks players and felt the criticism was simply part of his learning experience to becoming a long-term leader.

"I'm not looking to the next era so then bang out he goes and the next one comes in," Stuart said.

"I'm looking at working with Paul to make him the captain of the club for a long time and I hope that can happen.

"But Paul knows he's got to work with me, there's a number of different avenues I'm taking with regards to helping Paul and his captaincy but it's a big job."

The Sharks head into Saturday night's match against Manly sharing the competition points lead with the Sea Eagles and Sydney Roosters.

Stuart said the Toyota Park clash would give his side a good indication of how they were going, but believed they were still a long way off the level of last year's grand finalists.

"I think Melbourne and Manly are stronger teams than us but we just have to be strong on the day and anything can happen," Stuart said.

"This game is going to be a real test for us.

"It's gives us a bit of a guide, a bit of a gauge as to how we're going."

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