BACK: Paul Gallen is expected to face the Cowboys.
BACK: Paul Gallen is expected to face the Cowboys. JULIAN SMITH

Flanagan backs Gallen to play in prelim

RUGBY LEAGUE: Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan says skipper Paul Gallen will be fit for Friday night's preliminary final with the North Queensland Cowboys.

Gallen missed the Sharks' win over the Canberra Raiders in the qualifying final two weeks ago with a back problem but Flanagan expects the veteran Test and State of Origin star to be back for this week's clash at Allianz Stadium.

"Gal will be right,” Flanagan said at Sharks training at Southern Cross Group Stadium yesterday.

"He was never going to leave any stone unturned to be fit for this game.

"He was never going to miss this game, these are the games he wants to be a part of.”

The Sharks also look likely to be boosted by the return of bustling forward Sam Tagataese, who along with Gallen, trained well at yesterday's session.

Tagataese hasn't played in five weeks due to a shoulder problem but Flanagan said he was also on the right track to return for Friday night.

"Sam is recovering well,” the coach said. "I expect come later in the week he will be knocking on my door saying he is ready to play.”

Cowboys winger Antonio Winterstein is expected to recover from a rib injury.

Centre Kane Linnett is a 50-50 chance to play as he continues to battle a hamstring problem.


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