Back for the Sharks … Paul Gallen may play against the Roosters on Saturday.Cronulla captain Paul Gallen could make a shock early return against the Sydney Roosters on Saturday.
Shanghai night field

In a development sure to be welcomed by NSW coach Laurie Daley, Gallen could be back from an ankle injury two weeks earlier than originally planned. The Blues skipper was scheduled to return for the round nine clash against Parramatta but is hopeful of taking on the premiers at Remondis Stadium.

The inspirational backrower trained with the team on Good Friday and will be assessed by the medical staff prior to kick off. Should he pull up without any discomfort, he will be cleared to partake in a salivating personal duel with Roosters star Sonny Bill Williams.

“He’s a quick healer and it’s going to be hard to hold him back,” an insider said. “It all depends on how he pulls up tomorrow.

“He’ll be the man making the final call and you know Gal will be doing everything possible to get back.”

Gallen suffered the injury in the opening loss to the Gold Coast and the Sharks have struggled in his absence. The Shire club is in last position on the ladder, having won only one of their opening six matches. An early return will also be welcomed by the Blues, who have been decimated by injuries to key players. Hooker and vice captain Robbie Farah is in doubt for Origin I due to an elbow problem, while another NSW certainty, Shark Luke Lewis, is also sidelined.

The Sharks were hoping to welcome back another key forward, Anthony Tupou, from the casualty ward. However, he had a setback at training during the week and is more likely to return the following week against Penrith. Winger Beau Ryan is also likely to be available for selection against the Panthers.

There could be other changes to the Sharks line up, with Michael Lichaa tipped to replace hooker Isaac De Gois on the bench. It was thought Lichaa may not play for the club again after pledging his allegiance to the Bulldogs from next year. Lichaa made his NRL debut earlier this year but was banished to the NSW Cup for an apparent lack of loyalty.

A cloud remains over the long-term future of Test prop Andrew Fifita but the Sharks are hopeful he could re-sign in coming weeks.

The Roosters are also desperate to for a win to kickstart their premiership defence, notching just one more win than the Sharks to sit outside the top eight.

Gallen could be back to tackle SBW