Coach Shane Flanagan in announcing Paul Gallen as the Monty Porter Medallist as Sharks Player of the Year, repeated a statement he made earlier in the 2017 season.
Flanagan expressed his belief, while not discrediting any of the exceptional players of the past, that Gallen was the greatest-ever Shark.
After claiming a fifth Pontifex Player of the Year award, on top of being voted by his peers as the Player’s Player, after earlier this year being named captain of the Sharks Team of the Half Century and it becomes difficult to argue with his assessment.
“It’s hard to compare eras. There are great players from the past who wouldn’t have been effective now, current players who wouldn’t have been able to do what they do back in the day,” Gallen said upon taking the stage to receive his award.
“But I’m humbled that Flano would say that about me.”
On a night tinged with disappointment, with coaches and players wondering what might have been after being bundled out of finals contention by the Cowboys, it was all about celebrating the wonderful achievement of a man who plays every game as if it is his last and who does everything in his power to get a result for his team.
Coming out on top from a list of four nominees that included Wade Graham, Luke Lewis and Ricky Leutele, Gallen was the standout selection and a more than worthy winner.
“I’ve been able to win it a few times over the years but this one is pretty special, especially after what we did last year,” he said.
“I’ve made it a real focus of mine to show the players, the fans, the club that I wasn’t satisfied with what we did last year. I wanted to put my best foot forward this season to try to win it again.”
Add to that the Player’s Player, an award determined by weekly votes entered by his teammates, in a season where he played all 25 games throughout the year, and 2017 was a good as any of the 17 Gallen has played in the NRL.
“That was a bit of a surprise,” Gallen said of the Player’s Player award. “It’s a huge honour. It’s something players always talk about, being recognised by your peers, the guys you play with and it’s very humbling to get it from the boys.
“Every player want to be respected by your teammates, we all want to be that player and I’m very honoured to receive that award.”
Other players rewarded for their efforts on the night included Wade Graham as the Members Player of the Year, Jayden Brailey as the Rookie of the Year and Sam Tagataese for his work in the community.
For a full list of the award winners and a recap of the Monty Porter Medal Night – CLICK HERE