Cronulla and NSW skipper Paul Gallen was a welcome participant at the Sharks’ final training run on Friday morning and is a likely starter for the match against Manly tomorrow night.
While weary and sporting the bumps and bruises from a physical Origin encounter just two days earlier, Gallen came through a skills and drills warm up with his Sharks teammates before heading off for some massage and physio treatments.
Also on hand was his NSW and Sharks colleague Luke Lewis, who despite watching on rather than actively taking part at training, was also slated as being likely to take his place in the team to tackle Manly at Remondis tomorrow night.
Should the pair be fit to play it would be an enormous boost to a Sharks team desperate for a victory after what has so far been an injury riddled 2014 campaign.
Coach Peter Sharp had an extended squad at training and will be forced to make a couple of selection decisions should his Origin duo pull up ready to go tomorrow.
In a match being played for the Steve Rogers Trophy, the Sharks will go into the clash distinct underdogs but with a number of players having plenty to prove.
Fullback Nathan Gardner has been given his opportunity to shine, with Michael Gordon moved onto the wing to accommodate him, while Michael Lichaa makes his first appearance in the run-on 13, with the young hooker sure to be keen to impress.
Young gun Fa’amanu Brown has been selected on the bench where he is likely to be used as an interchange replacement for Lichaa. Brown can also cover the halves should the need arise.
Still eligible for the NYC under 20’s, Brown made his NRL debut against the Dragons two weeks ago and showed glimpses of what he is capable of. He should be better for the experience come this Saturday night.
The Sharks have a host of other players back on deck after missing the Dragons match, with Sosaia Feki, Jonathan Wright, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson and Anthony Tupou all set to return.
As for their opponents, NSW Origin backrower Anthony Watmough was rubbed out for four matches by the NRL judiciary and will miss the match, while there is also an injury cloud over Queensland half back Daly Cherry-Evans.
Even without their two Origin players Manly will arrive at Remondis with a formidable line up including the likes of Brett Stewart, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai and Kieran Foran.
Manly have won the previous three games played between the two clubs, their last victory coming earlier this year when they ran out winners to the tune of 24-4 back in round six.
The match is scheduled to kick off at 7.30pm as the last of three games to be played at Remondis Stadium on Saturday. The first match is the NYC Sharks v Manly at 3.15pm, followed by the NSW Cup at 5.15pm. Gates to Remondis Stadium open at 3.00pm.