In a move set to lessen the burden on long time skipper Paul Gallen, while at the same time giving more responsibility to the club’s heir apparent in Wade Graham, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has decided to run with co-Captain’s in 2018.
The Captain and lock in the Sharks Team of the Half Century and the man to hold aloft the Club’s first NRL Premiership trophy, Gallen enters his 18th season in the top grade and his eighth year in a row as Sharks captain.
Graham on the hand has been a capable fill in as captain over the past few years when Gallen has been missing with either injury or on rep duties, however armed with the experience gained both as the right hand man and as a member of the NSW and Australian teams in 2017, is ready to share the duties during the season ahead.
Flanagan explained the decision was about giving Graham a chance to learn more about leadership under the tutelage of the man who not only captained NSW to an Origin victory in 2014, but who also led the Sharks to their maiden NRL title in 2016.
“Having appointed Gal as captain (in 2011), I’ve only ever had one captain in all the time I’ve been here,’’ Flanagan told the Daily Telegraph. “Gal has been my rock throughout that time. He’s someone I can rely on, not just on the field, but outside of work.
“That won’t change and I feel Wade has very similar characteristics. He can continue his development as a leader by undertaking this role alongside Gal.’’
Also potentially helping to make the partnership a successful one is the close bond shared by the pair, dating back to when Gallen enticed a 21-year-old Graham to the Sharks back in 2011.
While most keen observers predicted it was a more a matter of when, not if, he would lead the Cronulla club, Graham was humbled when told the appointment was to be made official.
"I'm very excited about what the 2018 season might bring and its a massive honour for me to be able to share the captaincy with Gal," Graham said.
"But more than anything I'm looking forward to being a leader at the club this season and then into the future. There’s been talk the last couple of years of me becoming captain and that something like this could happen, but to now be officially given the role as a co-captain, is really something special."
Gallen and Graham are expected to sit out the Sharks first trial of 2018 against the Sea Eagles on Saturday, however the pair are likely to join their teammates in the final pre-season hit out when the Sharks play the Tigers on February 24.