Saturday marks a magic milestone in the career of Paul Gallen, with the Sharks skipper set to play his 250th NRL and his 250th top grade game for the Cronulla club.
Now in his 15th season in the NRL, Gallen arrived unproven and under-rated after having been discarded by his junior club the Eels, only to forge a celebrated career as a one-club player at the Sharks.
Since his debut back in 2001 Gallen has not only been a star in Sharks colours, he has also gone on to represent NSW, captaining the Blues to Origin victory in 2014, as well as for Australia playing 31 tests matches in the green and gold.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan, was high in his praise of his club captain
“It’s a big game for Gal and a big game for the club,” Flanagan said. “If you go to war, you want Gal in your team. He’s a real warrior and while you don’t want to compare war to football, Gal’s one of those players you want in the trenches.”
Jason Stevens skipper of the Sharks team on the day Gallen made his first grade debut, remembering him to be a young player even back then with an abundance of confidence.
“I was getting ready for a hit up and this young guy in his first game pushes in front of me and says ‘it’s my carry’,” Stevens recalled. “I couldn’t have a go at him after it because I he made a line break off the run.”
Stevens saw similar features in Gallen’s character as he did the great former Queenslander Gorden Tallis.
“He had that similar look in his eye to Gorden. I played with both and they were both great players,” he said.
As for turning the clock into the present and Gallen is now having an influence himself on the young guns coming through the ranks, with Jack Bird one player benefitting from his experience and guidance.
“Gal brings a lot of energy to the team, he’s a great leader, a great bloke on and off the field,” Bird said.
To do justice to Gallen’s career many more website pages would need to be dedicated to him, much lengthier highlight reels produced, however in capturing some of the moments from a career which one day will see him remembered as one of the best Cronulla players of all time, see our Sharks TV video presentation.
PAUL GALLEN FACT FILE
Born – 14-9-1981
Junior Club – Wentworthville
Sharks Games – NRL Games – 249
Tries – 53
First Grade Debut – Sharks v Eels, Toyota Park, 3-6-2001 (round 15)
Rep Honours – 21 Games for NSW, 31 Tests for Australia