Paul Gallen rates himself a "50-50" chance of playing in Sunday's match against Melbourne at Toyota Stadium.
The Cronulla captain was cleared of a kneeing charge at the NRL judiciary last night but could still miss the clash against the ladder leaders due to a knee injury. With the representative season about to start – the NSW Origin team will be named on Sunday – the last thing the Sharks or the Blues need is for Gallen to succumb to injury or burnout.
However, Gallen said he wanted to play and would make a final call after training on Saturday.
"I'll do everything I can," Gallen said. "At the moment I'll probably give myself 50-50 at this stage. It's a big game, but there are a lot of big things coming up, it's only round 10 and there's 16 rounds to go. I don't want to do anything silly and jeopardise my year."
However, the prospect of testing himself against the premiership favourites – and the chance to land a few telling blows on Queensland stars Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith on the eve of Origin – could prove too tempting for one of the game's toughest competitors.
"That's my problem. I went into last week's game with a little strain and sometimes I'm my own worst enemy," he said. "Sometimes I need someone to hold me back a little bit and I'm starting to realise that as I get a bit older. If this was last year or the year before, I'd be playing – no doubt. As you get a bit older you try to get a bit smarter. I don't know if I am. If I'm fit enough and I'm confident, I'll play."
It has already been a disrupted week of preparations for the Sharks after coach Shane Flanagan was hospitalised with a twisted bowel.