Cronulla players have seen a change in Paul Gallen over the past month as the Sharks great prepares to put his career on the line again on Saturday night.
Gallen will run out onto Lottoland on Saturday knowing a loss to Manly will spell the end of his 19-year career, with retirement already announced for the end of this season.
Those around Gallen believe the reality of that has dawned on him in recent weeks.
Coach John Morris last weekend lauded his leadership, noting that the Sharks lock had become vocal in his desire for a sixth straight finals series.
His co-captain Wade Graham has also seen the change, with the 38-year-old savouring his role more around the club.
"I think the realisation has finally hit him over the past month," Graham said.
"We were playing some good footy and we obviously wanted to get to the finals. And there was potential there for a while we wouldn't get to the finals.
"The realisation hit him it might be his last run.
"He's done everything in the game, he deserves a good finish and a strong finish and hopefully we give it to him."
Regardless, the Sharks say this finals series can't solely be about Gallen.
The Cronulla captain led the club to their first premiership in 2016, and is adamant they have turned a corner in the past month.
He was the named captain of their team of the half-century in that same year, and famously led NSW to a drought-breaking State of Origin victory in 2014.
But Graham said while Gallen would act as a motivation before matches, players had to look within once they step on the field.
"It's good when you can sit down and reflect on it in your preparation or after a win. But once you get out there the game is on," Graham said.
"You're not thinking when you get out there that it's someone's last game or whatever. You've got to do your job and that's play footy.
"He's certainly enjoyed the last few weeks. He doesn't say much but I know he's enjoyed it.
"The farewell at Shark Park was brilliant. I know we didn't get the result but the day was much more than just about that.
"And then the last game at Leichhardt, a sudden-death clash and again a full house. And he manages to sneak over a field goal. He's having some fun."
Australian Associated Press