Cronulla will have to win their way into the NRL grand final without captain Paul Gallen after he was ruled out of Friday night’s clash with Melbourne due to injury.
The Sharks were hopeful the 37-year-old would be able to play in the crunch match, even flying him down to Melbourne despite tearing ligaments in his shoulder during last week’s one-point win over Penrith.
The leadership duties now rest with retiring back-rower Luke Lewis in Gallen’s absence, in what could be his last NRL game.
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In fact, it will be the last ever game for either veteran Lewis or legendary Storm fullback Billy Slater.
Although Lewis knows the ultra-competitive Slater will be spurred on by the occasion, he also plans to harness the emotion in his performance.
“I’ve built up a really good relationship with Billy over the years, especially having the opportunity to play with him [for Australia],” Lewis said.
“But in saying that, when we’re out on the park we don’t like each other for that 80 minutes. He’s going to want to win more than ever, [but] I want to win more than ever as well.”