Gallen decides to play on in 2019
CRONULLA skipper Paul Gallen is set to play on in 2019, taking his NRL career into a record 19th season.
Just two days after turning 37, Gallen has decided against retiring.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has consistently said he would welcome Gallen's decision to go around again given his form over the first 22 rounds.
While the Cronulla ironman's minutes have dropped this year, the former NSW captain has still averaged 133m per game - the seventh most of any forward in the league, according to Fox Sports Stats.
Gallen is the co-holder of the record for most season' in the NRL, 18, along with fellow Sharks great Andrew Ettingshausen and teammate Luke Lewis.
He will move past both of them should he step onto a field in 2019.
"Plenty of people quote my age and the fact that I was 37 earlier in the week, however the body feels good, training is still something I look forward to and the feedback from the coach and those that matter, say my contribution to the team on game day is strong," Gallen wrote in a letter to fans on the Sharks' website.
"I've always said age and my birth certificate would never make this decision for me if everything I've explained above was in order.
"And personally, I believe I've got plenty left to give, which has ultimately led me to make this decision.
"If I play 15 games or 25 games next year, while winning is the main aim, part of my role will also be to bring through and to help develop the next crop of talented young players at our club, as I've tried to do in recent years and as I'll continue to do.
"I can say that 2019 will be my last season. I now have an end date and with the talent we have here at the Sharks I am confident this year and next can be successful for myself and the Cronulla club."
Gallen has played 321 games for Cronulla since debuting in 2001. He captained the side to the club's first premiership in 2016.
With three games and a finals series to go this year, another season will give Gallen a chance to break through the 350-game barrier.
Cameron Smith (379), Darren Lockyer (355) and Terry Lamb (350) are the only players to achieve the milestone.
Sydney Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk (343) will join the elite club either in the grand final, if the Roosters play four finals games and make it through to the season decider, or in early 2019.
Heading into Saturday's clash with North Queensland, the Sharks are in sixth spot and well entrenched in the race for the premiership.
Should the Sharks lift the Provan-Summons trophy, Gallen will become the oldest player in 96 years to be crowned a premiership winner.
The Sharks skipper will be 37 years, one month and 16 days old on grand final day, September 30.
According to League Information Services, George Green - who was 38 years, eight months and 20 days when he won the 1922 NSWRL decider with North Sydney - is the oldest-known premiership winner.
Gallen will slot in behind Green if the Sharks are successful.
Since debuting in 2001, Gallen has made 50,938m - an average of 159m per game. It's believed to be an all-time league record.