Cronulla NRL skipper Paul Gallen says the Sharks’ incredible surge of form won’t be affected by his and Todd Carney’s likely State of Origin absences.
Riding the wave of a six-game winning streak, the third-placed Sharks are – barring loss of form or a NSW selection rethink – likely to be without their top guns Gallen and Carney for three matches during the Origin period.
They are representative absences that could hurt the Sharks as much as other teams usually adversely affected during the seven-week representative period such as Brisbane and Melbourne.
But Blues skipper Gallen is confident the 2012 NRL surprise packets can weather the storm and cover the loss of their two most influential players.
“If that happens and Todd and I are away during the Origin period, I’m confident we have the depth to cover it,” Gallen said.
“We are playing with confidence and we are playing really well as a team.
“Mark Taufua and Tyson Frizell are two blokes who have been playing well in NSW Cup and they can really step up.
“It is up to those type of players to take that opportunity. It is one game at a time at the moment and we are not looking too far ahead but I think we will be OK over that period if Todd and me are missing.”
The Sharks play each of the three weekends that fall before every Origin game meaning they would be without Carney and Gallen for round 11 against Canterbury, round 14 against Gold Coast and round 17 against Brisbane.
In the Sharks’ favour, however, is the fact that they enjoy two byes and meet lowly Parramatta, with Gallen and Carney available over that seven-week period.
Carney, whose form has steadily improved as the Sharks’ unbeaten streak has gathered momentum, backed his captain’s call.
“Things are going well for us at the Sharks at the moment and it is all very positive,” Carney said.
“But the reason I am being talked up (for Origin) is not just because of the way I’m playing. It is thanks to my teammates as well.
“There are 16 other blokes out there playing really well every week and we can all take confidence from that.
“We are playing well as a team and that’s not just about Gal or about me – it is about everyone.”