Injured Sharks trio racing the clock

He didn't give too much away, however when addressing the media earlier today Sharks coach Shane Flanagan did give fans hope that his injured trio of players would run out against the Panthers on Sunday.

While it is a given Paul Gallen, who strained his medial ligament in last Friday's loss to the Dragons, will miss four to six weeks, Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham and Luke Lewis have been given every chance of being fit to take part in what shapes as a crucial game for the Sharks this weekend.

The three trained last night at the Sharks scrimmage session with the Newtown Jets, with Flanagan this morning leaving their injury status up in the air - although he certainly wasn't ruling anybody out.

"We won't know until tomorrow," Flanagan said. "They're all heading in the right direction, the only confirmed out is Gallen and the rest have given themselves some hope.

"They're all working really hard with our physixxx and our medical team, late nights, trying to get ready for this game and we're lucky its a long turn around.

"Tomorrow we'll know a bit more," he added.

Perhaps the most surprising is the fitness of Fifita, with the international front rower feared to have suffered a season-ending injury last week.

Out of the three racing the clock to be fit, Fifita ran with the most freedom, completing the contact-session against the Jets without any major discomfort.
"We got good news last week that (Fifita) hadn't strained or torn his ACL, there was some other damage in there and he's given himself every hope this week to play," Flanagan said.

"He's worked really hard, him and all the staff have worked hard. If he's right, he's right, there's no chance of further injury and if he's ready to play, he's ready to play."

Graham's scans results on his injured hamstring were also positive, revealing only minor damage, while Lewis had a cork above his knee.

While he wasn't drawn into rating the chances of Graham, Flanagan made light of Lewis's issues and was confident he would be right to go come 4.00pm on Sunday.

"The last person to miss a game with a cork was me, he'll be right," Flanagan joked.

Similarly, Josh Dugan gave little away about the injury concerns when quizzed by the media on Thursday afternoon.

"If they're right to play, they're right to play. Its completely up to the medical staff," Dugan said.

Should the trio be unavailable, Flanagan preferred to focus on who could play and had every confidence in those who would run out against the Panthers, with Soctt Sorensen, Jack Williams and Braden Uele in line to play their first NRL games for the Sharks this season.

"Whoever trots out is going to work really hard and we expect to win. It creates some good opportunities for the young blokes," he said.

More will be revealed when the Sharks trim their squad list down from 21 to 19 at the 4.00pm deadline tomorrow, with the final 17-man squad announced one hour before kick off on Sunday.