A vintage Paul Gallen effort in his team's gutsy 26-18 win over the Titans on Thursday night came after one of the toughest weeks of his career physically.
Gallen got himself and his team up for an exhausting 20-18 win over arch rivals Melbourne a week earlier despite enduring a week of aching pain from an ongoing ribs injury as well as a troublesome knee problem. He then had to back it up with a bigger effort in round nine.
He made it onto the Suncorp Stadium pitch only to watch as key big men Andrew Fifita (hamstring) and Matt Prior (neck) were forced from the contest inside the opening 20 minutes.
It left Gallen and the trio of bench forwards with more work than they would have been expecting, but Gallen turned in a vintage 200-metre effort in 65 minutes, capped off with a late try and his first NRL goal for good measure.
"Leading into the Melbourne Storm was one of the hardest weeks of my career," Gallen said.
"My ribs were killing me, my knee was killing me then all of a sudden we beat the Melbourne Storm, you feel on top of the world and you win another, feel on top of the world; winning fixes a lot of things."
Match Highlights: Titans v Sharks
Gallen said the ribs still require pain-killing injections to get through games but the long turnaround to the Manly game in round 10 will come as a relief.
He praised the efforts of Jayson Bukuya, Braden Hamlin-Uele and Jack Williams to fill the gulf left by the injuries to the starting props.
"We played well last week against Melbourne with a lot of guys out. We've got some young guys in the side who are learning to play first grade pretty early. They've got to learn you've got to turn up every week in this competition, you can't just play one or two good games," he said.
"I'm quite comfortable playing [big minutes] but I don't need to anymore. We've got these players on the bench, Jayson Bukuya, Jack Williams, Braden, they come on and do what I do and some, that's the difference these days.
"Three, four, five years ago we didn't have that and I had to play big minutes. Thankfully I don't have to do that anymore, unfortunately a couple of our big boys got injured and I did play those extra minutes. Bomber (coach John Morris) knows I've got it in me if I need to do it, I just don't need to do it as much anymore."
That bench impact helped the team overcome an awful first half in which errors and penalties gifted the Titans some attacking chances they were able to take advantage of to have an 18-10 lead at the break.
"I had a good blow-up at half-time, Bomber came in and said exactly what I said. We went out there in the second half and got it done," he said.
"It was just dumb errors – making errors and giving a penalty away; fifth tackle penalties giving them field position; gifting them a try after points with offloads. That's a cardinal sin. You have to complete your next set after points and we're giving them intercepts.
"No-one means to do it and I'm not bagging anyone individually. You just can't do it if you want to be a good side."
Gallen scores try in last game at Suncorp
The win – and the goal to rub salt into the wounds of the parochial Queensland crowd – was a welcome sign-off for Gallen at a ground at which he has endured plenty of misery results-wise over a long club and Origin career.
"The majority of games here have probably been Origins ... it's a very tough place to come, particularly through that eight-year period, I don't know how many games we won here, it wasn't many. It's hard but that's the thing about footy, you have to keep turning up," Gallen said.
"I'm pretty proud of my efforts throughout that period, obviously the results didn't all go my way but that's life."