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Sharks Gallen, Tagataese set for NRL final

AAP logoAAP 18/09/2016 James MacSmith

Cronulla will be boosted by the return of key forwards Paul Gallen and Sam Tagataese for their NRL preliminary final against North Queensland.

Gallen is a certain starter for the Allianz Stadium encounter on Friday after missing last week's qualifying final win over Canberra with a back injury.

Tagataese hasn't played for five weeks due to a shoulder issue, but coach Shane Flanagan indicated he will be a late inclusion.

Given the Sharks were blown away up front in their 39-0 semi-final loss to the Cowboys last year, the inclusion of two of their biggest bodies will be crucial as they play for a grand final appearance in a unified competition for the first time in almost 40 years.

"Gal's injury was serious," Flanagan said at Sharks training on Sunday.

"He couldn't get out of his car. He couldn't walk. But to his credit he worked really hard on it. He has had physios and chiropractors working on it around the clock.

"He wasn't going to leave any stone unturned not to be able to play this weekend. This is his time to shine.

"He has worked hard to be where he is. He trained really well a few days ago and today is the first time he has done some ball work and some contact and some wrestle and so on so he will be 100 per cent."

Hooker Michael Ennis said he was impressed with Gallen's recovery.

"He will be right. He is a tough warrior. These opportunities don't come around too often," Ennis said.

"He knows how important he is to our side and fortunately his back has come good."

Tagataese has more to do to be there on Friday.

"He trained well today," Flanagan said

"He did a little bit of contact today. He will do a little bit more on Tuesday and if he gets through that OK I expect him to come knocking on my door with the physios and telling me he is right to play."

Cowboys winger Antonio Winterstein is expected to recover from a rib injury to take on the Sharks. Centre Kane Linnett is a 50-50 proposition as he continues to struggle with a hamstring issue.

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