NSW captain Paul Gallen cleared for Origin I
NSW skipper Paul Gallen has been cleared to play in State of Origin I, but a quirk in the NRL rules means the seriousness of his knee injury could decide whether he fights a dangerous contact charge.
Cronulla and Blues fans breathed a collective sigh of relief on Tuesday when scans revealed the inspirational forward had suffered only a strained posterior cruciate ligament in Monday night's loss to South Sydney.
At worst, he will miss Sunday's home game against unbeaten competition leaders Melbourne and Gallen has declared himself a certain starter for the Origin opener on May 23.
"It's just more of a scare than anything," Gallen said at Sharks recovery on Tuesday.
"I was pretty scared at the time ... I'll maybe miss a week.
"I'll definitely be right (for Origin) in two weeks' time."
Gallen cleared a second hurdle when he was handed a grade one charge for kneeing Rabbitohs back-rower Dave Taylor in the head - the grading not severe enough to jeopardise his Origin jumper.
The charge attracted a 100-point penalty, but an early plea would reduce that to 75 points, clearing him to take on the Storm.
But Sharks officials admit that if Gallen was to miss Sunday's game through injury, he would be better off fighting the charge at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night - and losing.
This would result in him being banned for the Storm game, but his slate would be wiped clean, unlike the 75 carry-over points he would have hanging over his head with an early plea.
Sharks officials admitted the idea was one they were considering, with a plea due by midday on Wednesday, though Gallen maintained his innocence.
"I'm not even looking at him. I'm just getting up to go to marker," Gallen said before he learned of the charge.
"There was definitely no intent there and whatever contact there was, was pretty minimal.
"It looks like I'll be out for a week anyway ... I'd like to think a bit of common sense will prevail."
Both Gallen and Sharks coach Shane Flanagan dismissed any notion that the rugged lock-cum-prop would be rested for Sunday's game to save him for Origin.
"He stayed up all last night and he had about an hour's sleep treating the injury," Flanagan said.
"If he thought he wasn't playing this weekend he wouldn't be putting himself through that - he'll be doing everything he can to play."
Added Gallen: "My main focus is Cronulla - we've had a really good start to the year and we've got to try and keep it going.
"If I'm right to play this week, I'll do everything I can to play.
"But realistically it's going to be a week on the sideline."