Gallen cleared to play against Storm - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gallen cleared to play against Storm

25/09/2008 07:28:26 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen has been cleared to play in Friday night's NRL preliminary final against Melbourne at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Gallen survived a fitness test on his injured thigh at Thursday's final training session, with coach Ricky Stuart declaring the powerhouse lock a certain starter.

Gallen had struggled to stretch out after suffering a cork in his side's big win over Canberra in the opening week of the finals, but declared earlier this week that nothing would keep him off the field on Friday night.

"Gally's good. He trained very well today," Stuart told reporters.

Asked if his captain would play, Stuart said: "Definitely, yeah."

The Storm lost their own inspirational skipper when Cameron Smith was rubbed out by the NRL judiciary for a grapple tackle and Stuart said he was unsure who would replace the Test hooker.

"We've practiced against a couple of different options but we're not expecting the game to change too much because of their nine," he said.

"They've got a very structured game and they're going to be the Melbourne of old for us, the way we've prepared.

"They'll be very, very strong and they've got some great strike and it's up to us to try to nullify that."

Underdogs Cronulla have headed into a finals eve camp believing all the pressure is on the defending premiers.

"We haven't built up to put any pressure on ourselves at all," Stuart said.

"A lot of people don't even realise that we're still here in the competition.

"People wrote us off halfway through the year, didn't think we were even going to make the eight, let alone be up with the leaders.

"There's no pressure at all - they're not nervous, they're nervous excited more than nervous under pressure."

Stuart said keeping his side together in camp was the natural preparation for a season-defining game.

"I think it's part and parcel of big games," he said.

"We're not the first team to ever do it. I don't think there's any real benefit in it. I just think it's a matter of in these special occasions you like to be together, you like to share the moments with one another and it's a big day tomorrow."

And a massive day in the Sutherland Shire, where Cronulla supporters will be willing their overachieving band of battlers to their first grand final appearance in 30 years - excluding the one-off Super League decider in 1997 - and an elusive first premiership.

"It's now we've got a bit of a responsibility to all our supporters and our community," Stuart said.

"I feel as though it's important that we can do the best we possibly can for the Cronulla community because they've had a long, long wait.

"They've been very patient and we've got the opportunity to have a crack at a grand final.

"That's all it is at the moment. It's an opportunity and it's a very exciting prospect."

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