Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen has been ruled out of the Sharks’ NRL qualifying final against Canberra due to a back injury.
Triple M reported that Gallen texted them late on Saturday morning to confirm he would miss the GIO Stadium clash later that evening due to the injury.
The news comes as a massive blow to the Sharks who have lost four of their last five matches, including a round 22, 30-14 loss to the Raiders.
The Sharks have beaten only the lowly Sydney Roosters in that time.
Jayson Bukuya is expected to come into the backrow for Gallen, with youngster Kurt Capewell coming onto the bench for the visitors.
The Raiders, who have won their last 10 games, will now go into the match as hot favourites.
Even before Gallen was ruled out, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan accepted his side would be underdogs.
“They’re the favourites to win and so they should be,” Flanagan said.
“They’re in good form. (Raiders coach) Ricky (Stuart) will always have an opinion on (who should be favourites) and good luck to them.
“Someone’s got to be favourite and someone’s got to be underdog and we can’t wait to get down there.”