Just over a month out from the Origin opener, NSW captain Paul Gallen has made an impressive early NRL return with the Sharks after seven weeks out.
Paul Gallen’s impressive early NRL return for Cronulla has provided a welcome boost for NSW Origin coach Laurie Daley just days after he confided his despair over his ankle complaint.
Gallen hardly missed a beat in his return for the Sharks in Saturday’s 24-18 round seven loss to the Sydney Roosters, his first match since round one.
The NSW and Cronulla captain almost inspired his side to just their second win of the season in a trademark performance in which he made 144m from 18 hitups and made 33 tackles.
Less than a week after hooker Robbie Farah suffered an elbow injury likely to rule him out of the State of Origin opener in Brisbane on May 28, Gallen’s effort would have given Daley cause for relief and optimism.
But Gallen revealed he told Daley on Monday that the injury was still a big concern.
“I saw Loz on Monday and I was down in the dumps and I said I am nowhere near playing and six days later I am playing,” Gallen said.
“I felt really good the first half.
“I have hardly run for five weeks and fitness caught up with me a bit in the second half.
“I twinged my ankle a few times in the second half but I have pulled up well.”
Gallen had been scheduled for a round eight return and said his recovery surprised Sharks staff.
“It came out of the blue on Thursday. I was no chance earlier in the week,” he said.
“I was doing my rehab running on Thursday and it felt pretty good in the morning and I said to the trainers I am playing and they laughed at me.
“We came back in the afternoon and did some defence and tackling and did the captain’s run on Friday and it came up OK.”
Manly back-rower Anthony Watmough could be another injury worry for Daley though after an elbow injury he has been carrying flared up in the Sea Eagles’ win over North Queensland.
Watmough will have scans on the injury on Tuesday.