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Galuvao unlikely but in mix for NRL GF

Joe Galuvao's dream of an NRL grand final fairytale has been given new life with Manly coach Geoff Toovey declaring the veteran forward still "in the mix".
Galuvao unlikely but in mix for NRL GF
by AAP

By Ben Horne

SYDNEY, Oct 3 AAP - Joe Galuvao's dream of an NRL grand final fairytale has been given new life with Manly coach Geoff Toovey declaring the veteran forward still "in the mix".

On Wednesday Galuvao said he was ready to play if called upon for Sunday's decider but admitted he was at long odds because Toovey had already decided he wouldn't use him to fill his vacant interchange spot.

But there's either been some miscommunication or a change of heart because on Thursday Toovey refused to rule Galuvao out - the strongest indication yet that the improbable could happen.

Five months ago Galuvao announced his retirement after rupturing an Achilles tendon, requiring surgery.

Now he's some chance to end his impressive career with a fourth grand final appearance.

On Sunday, Galuvao will either parade around ANZ Stadium as one of the NRL's retiring greats, or he'll lace up his boots for one last hurrah.

Toovey said Galuvao had done all he could to face the Sydney Roosters on Sunday.

"He's in the mix but it would be highly unlikely. He's had 20 weeks off," said Toovey.

"It was a major surgery, an Achilles comeback, but he's trained hard this week to try and prove himself and he's in the mix."

Manly will hold a captain's run on Saturday where Toovey will make a final call on his bench.

At the moment 28-year-old David Gower and youngster James Hasson are in contention for the interchange spot left vacant by Richie Fa'aoso, who suffered a broken neck in last week's preliminary final win over South Sydney.

Galuvao has won premierships with Penrith and Manly and also featured in a losing grand final for Parramatta, and Manly are understandably tempted to inject a player of his experience.

It's unlikely Toovey would want his fourth forward on the bench to play much more than 20 minutes.

And if he thinks Galuvao can get through that much football, than he might emerge as a preferable option to inexperienced options Gower and Hasson.

Galuvao is a mistake-free footballer who has the ability to straighten up Manly's drives up-field.

A comeback would certainly serve as an inspiration.

Rival coach Trent Robinson said "he wouldn't be surprised" if Galuvao did play.

Whether Galuvao plays or not remains a mystery, but according to close mate Frank Puletua, nothing can diminish what he believes is one of the "great" NRL careers.

Galuvao has been to five clubs since he debuted as a fullback for the Warriors in 1998.

At the Warriors and later Souths he was told he had no future in the game.

Since Rabbitohs owner Russell Crowe urged him to hang up the boots in 2007, he's played in two grand finals.

Galuvao may not be a big name player, but he has continually fought on and found ways to rise back to the top.

"That's why I think it's a great career," said former Penrith teammate Puletua.

"There's times when the profile of a player can carry them over some of the more difficult times. But I think Joey being able to come back from really the lows of lows you can have in rugby league, where you get thrown outside the unit and basically shown the door.

"To come back from that is special.

"I wouldn't write him off (from the grand final).

"He's keeping his cards close to his chest ... I know he won't detract from the team and they'll probably gain a lot more by having him out there."


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