Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan would love to give his workhorse skipper Paul Gallen a rest in lead-up to the finals, but says he can’t afford to as the Sharks chase a top-four finish for the first time since 2008.
Sydney Roosters representative trio Mitchell Pearce, Boyd Cordner and Aidan Guerra have all been rested in recent weeks by coach Trent Robinson.
Queensland stars Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott have been given time off by North Queensland mentor Paul Green.
And Wayne Bennett has given Corey Parker, Sam Thaiday and Justin Hodges time away from the game in Brisbane.
Gallen has again put his 34-year-old body through an enormous workload during State of Origin and beyond this season.
Flanagan believes the NSW captain and his Cronulla hooker Michael Ennis could use a rest to freshen up before September. But it won’t happen.
“I would love to be in a position where I could rest Gal and probably Michael Ennis, but I don’t think we are going to be,” Flanagan said.
“We need to win all of our games on the way home if we are going to make that top four, so we haven’t got that luxury because of the way we started (the season).”
However, Flanagan said he might look to limit Gallen’s game time over the final month of the regular season.
“Gal missed a bit of footy through his hip injury, physically he is fine, mentally he is fine, he is really looking forward to the next month,” Flanagan said.
“If he starts a game he will probably play the whole lot of it, stopping Gal playing 80 minutes is hard. Sitting on the sideline, he isn’t good at that.
“If we are in a position at the end of the year, where maybe we can cut his game time down, I will look at that.
“It would be a real luxury if I could do that ,but I’m not looking to do that at the moment.”