NSW and Cronulla captain Paul Gallen has given himself two months to decide whether to play one more year in the NRL.
Gallen, 34, comes off-contract at the end of this season but says he’ll wait to see how his ageing body responds to its 16th season in first grade before making a call.
“I definitely haven’t decided I’m retiring, that’s for sure,” Gallen said on Wednesday.
“I’m just going to see how I go over the first couple of months in the competition.
“I feel great. I love coming to training every day and I still love playing. I just have to see how the body holds up.”
Gallen was confident his contract status wouldn’t drag on like it did last year, when he and the club went back and forth for almost six months before he put pen to paper on a one-year extension.
“We had a lot going on with the last one. There was a lot of things behind the scenes with what happened to us in previous years that we had to sort out,” he said.
“That’s all done now, and I think the next one will be a lot simpler. In the first two months, I’ll make a decision.”
All that could hinge on whether he ticks the final box of a decorated career that has included lifting State of Origin shields and World Cup trophies.
The one big glaring omission that he’d dearly love to fulfil is leading his only club to its maiden premiership.
After falling to eventual premiers North Queensland in the second week of the finals last year, Gallen said his only goal in 2016 was to push further towards that first Sunday in October.
“We’ve got to show some confidence. We want to play semi-final football. There’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“(And) we don’t want to play just one week. We want to be there come the final 2-3 weeks. We believe we’ve got the side to do that. There’s a lot of hard work to go in between that and where we are now.”
The Sharks roster has gotten stronger over the summer, adding an entirely new halves pairing in veteran James Maloney and returning local Chad Townsend, while rising star Jack Bird has shifted to fullback.
Gallen compared the current side to the one that finished one game short of the grand final in 2002.
“I was coming in as a 20-year-old and we had Greg Bird. We had a lot of guys coming in that could play, and then a lot of guys with experience: Jason Stevens, David Peachey, Paul Mellor, Chris McKenna,” he said.
“I’m unfortunately one of the older guys now, (but) I compare our side to that a little bit. We went okay back then, so hopefully we can get there again.”