NRL: Gallen tells Sharks to aim even higher

Paul Gallen and the Sharks face the Raiders in week one of the NRL playoffs. Photo / Getty Images
Paul Gallen and the Sharks face the Raiders in week one of the NRL playoffs. Photo / Getty Images

After watching his club slide down the ladder late in the season, Cronulla captain Paul Gallen wants to drill home the message that they are more than just worthy finalists.

Gallen doesn't want the Sharks, who forced their way into the NRL top four midway through the season, to simply be satisfied with reaching the finals.

And he certainly doesn't want their playing group to buy into talk from their detractors that they're likely to be bundled out by their week one opponents, Canberra.

After all, Gallen need only point out that his troops have successfully defeated every finals opponent bar Canterbury this season.

And he can't take much personal responsibility for the Bulldogs loss - given it was during the State of Origin period while he and star five-eighth Todd Carney were on NSW duties.

"I think that's something that we've got to talk about and it is something I've been trying to drum into the boys for the past two weeks," Gallen said on Monday.

"We're a good side. It's not up to what other people think about us.

"It's what people around the club and the team thinks of itself.

"I still think we've got a couple of boys who have to wake up to themselves and realise that.

"Hopefully we can drum that into them this week and just get everyone playing to their potential. We'll be a good chance against anyone."

Gallen hasn't played finals football since 2008, when the Sharks fell to Melbourne one week before the grand final.

There is a younger core at the club who have yet to play finals football at all - and Gallen doesn't want them to be satisfied that reaching September is a job well done.

"I just hope that a few of the younger blokes aren't just happy to be here," he said.

"And I don't think they are. We're not speaking like that at training.

"... As a football team we're not happy just to be there.

"We want to really compete. We don't want to bow out week one that's for sure."

The Sharks blew the chance of a home final with Sunday's disappointing loss to North Queensland, but Gallen insisted an away trip to Canberra - a venue they've won six of their past eight matches - presented no fears for his squad.

"We were probably a bit disappointed with where we finished," Gallen admitted.

"We had an opportunity to finish up a little bit higher and get a game here.

"But we can't change that now. Being on the road for us this year hasn't worried us too much.

"We've got a decent record especially on long trips. Obviously down in Canberra we've got a good record too."

- AAP

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