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Sharks should overcome key losses: Gallen

NZN 23/02/2017 Scott Bailey

No team has won back-to-back NRL premierships for 24 years, but Cronulla captain Paul Gallen won't accept any excuses from his Sharks on why they can't buck the trend.

Cronulla have lost half of their title-winning spine over the off-season, with hooker Michael Ennis retiring and Ben Barba headed to French rugby after he was handed a 12-week ban for testing positive to cocaine.

But with the discovery of young hooker Jayden Brailey and the likely shift of Valentine Holmes to fullback, Gallen said his club had had enough of a chance to prepare for life after the pair.

"Mick is a loss, no doubt about it," Gallen said.

"We've known since midway through last year that Mick wasn't going to be here and we're really got no excuses on that front."

"Someone has to replace him, someone will replace him and I'm sure it will be Jayden to start the year along with some help from (Daniel) Mortimer and Nu Brown."

Gallen believes Holmes' shift to the No.1 jersey could be a revelation for Cronulla, after he scored 18 tries for the Sharks last year.

"He could be anything, Valentine Holmes," Gallen said.

"He's probably one of the best wingers I've ever seen. There's not many wingers who can just score tries if you give them half a chance and he's one of them.

"But he wants to be a fullback and he's got the potential to be there."

Cronulla are in uncharted territory when it comes to defending a title.

While it is renowned as one of the hardest feats to achieve in the modern game, Gallen believes the Sharks are at an advantage with most of their players having never attempted to defend a premiership before.

"I think that makes it easier for us," Gallen said.

"It's just about doing what we do well every week, playing to our potential every week and if we can do that, we'll win the majority of our games once again."

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