SYDNEY: Paul Gallen is the latest big name wrestling with the pros and cons of the NRL All Stars match.
The Cronulla captain doesn't want to follow Billy Slater in pulling out of the showpiece pre-season event, but it appears likely he'll have to withdraw after a disrupted pre-season which included elbow surgery and now a staph infection.
Gallen is desperate to play his part in what he regards as a representative match and to contribute to the good cause of promoting rugby league and good health to Indigenous communities.
But Gallen concedes club commitments have to come first, with a big season ahead for the well-credentialed Sharks.
Coach Shane Flanagan is concerned about allowing his biggest name to play in the February 9 fixture against the Indigenous All Stars with so little training under his belt.
Flanagan will make the final decision on Gallen next week before the All Stars go into camp.
Gallen isn't getting his hopes up.
"I wouldn't say I'm confident. I wouldn't say I'm not confident. I'm just taking each day as it comes, not much else I can do," said Gallen, who with his elbow infection, can't resume contact work until next week.
"It's a difficult game. The first few years everyone really got behind it, and the last couple of years a few big name players are starting to pull out.
"It's an important game for myself. I want to play ... but I understand the club are pretty concerned about me playing in it.
"I'm not going into it 100 per cent fit, and I certainly know a lot of sponsors and fans have said something as well."
Gallen admits his fitness is not where it should be after an "up and down" pre-season.
The 31-year-old got married, had a honeymoon, a boxing bout, elbow surgery and now an infection - with not much fitness training in between.
"I've got to say realistically I'm not where I should be at this time of year but the club's not too concerned," he said.
"If things go to plan for me and I stay fit it's going to be a real long year so I've got to be fit at the back end."
Flanagan called Gallen when he was in hospital with the infection last week, and reminded his skipper to keep the Sharks' interests foremost in his mind.
If it's not Gallen, the Sharks will have to give another backrower to the All Stars match, and Flanagan said he'll take time in making his call.
"It'll just be my decision along with the medical staff and then we'll consult Gal how he's feeling," Flanagan said.
In other injury news for Cronulla, centre Ben Pomeroy needs minor surgery to remove scar tissue in his groin and is in doubt for round one.