Damning stats show extent of Cronulla's slide
THE Sharks are swimming in dangerous waters, and Paul Gallen knows it.
With four losses in the past seven weeks and at least 30 points conceded in all of them, Cronulla is falling into the same late-season struggles as last year.
Gallen and co pulled a premiership from the fire of one win in their last six 2016 regular season games.
Driving the Sharks of course was the NRL's longest premiership drought, but Gallen is adamant: "I'm as motivated as ever to win this comp."
But as for the rest of Cronulla's cohort, now in serious danger of missing an all-important top-four berth, he and skipper-in-waiting Wade Graham can smell blood in the water.
"Me and Wade Graham caught up and had a chat about (motivation)," Gallen told The Sunday Footy Show.
"Someone said to him 'it looks like you guys aren't loving each other at the moment'.
"For me that's an issue. If someone's saying that to Wade, and it looks like that on the field, that could be a big issue.
"That's something I'm going to have to address this week.
"I've got to say I spoke to the boys last week about motivation and it's something I'm going to have to address even more.
"From a senior playing group, there's no lacking motivation there.
"It's up to us to drive these other blokes and hopefully they can all jump on board."
The motivation might not be lacking among the Sharks' senior men as Gallen says, but their usual superb standards are.
In back-to-back losses to Brisbane (32-10) and Canberra (30-12), some of Cronulla's most experienced campaigners have gone MIA.
No forward in the game's most rough and tumble pack ran for more than 90m against the Broncos.
Props Matt Prior and Andrew Fifita contributed just 80 of those between them, with Prior making more missed tackles (four) than carries (three).
Poor old James Maloney couldn't find a hole big enough to hide in at Suncorp Stadium as he suffered through nine missed tackles, two errors and conceded four penalties in one of the worst performances of a glittering career.
Gallen's three errors didn't escape the eye, while a week earlier Graham finished with five penalties to his name as Gallen (147m) and Fifita (112m) were the only forwards to crack the ton against the Raiders.
Of Cronulla's 69 missed tackles in the past fortnight, their senior men have been the biggest culprits.
And nothing speaks to a side's motivation - read attitude - like a missed tackle column.