Cronulla’s Paul Gallen farewells rabid Queensland fans


“Thank you, thank you, if you didn’t boo me , you wouldn’t have inspired me so much and I probably would have retired years ago, so thank you,” was Gallen’s final message for the league lovers in the Sunshine State.

“Suncorp hasn’t been the kindest place for me throughout Origin, and I don’t know how many games we won there as a Sharks team [Gallen has won only once in Brisbane with Cronulla].

“Obviously the boos are there every time I touch the ball. People ask me if I hear it. I’ve always said I must have done something right over the years. That’s the way I look at it.

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“[The hate] all stems from State of Origin. There was a period there throughout Origin where they [Queensland] were obviously very dominant. I have said before that had the roles been reversed, Origin would never have been the same because they wouldn’t have handled it, Queensland.

“I had to play my part in that and I did. That is the reason they carry like they carry on.”

Gallen’s favourite memory at Suncorp remains game one of the 2014 Origin series. The defensive effort late in the game paved the way for the Blues’ drought-breaking victory against the all-conquering Maroons.

His worst was his 300th NRL game in 2017 when ”we got absolutely hammered” and “I had four errors all year, three of them in that one game”.

The boos are there every time I touch the ball.

Paul Gallen

The ”two heads” dig at Queensland was made at a NSW luncheon, said Gallen, but he never expected it to go public.

“It went berserk. I got a couple of text messages and calls off the CEO of the game saying, ‘What a legend, you just sold the place out in five minutes’,” Gallen said.

“Some of them do [have two heads]. I get booed all the time, but when you see them in the street, they aren’t too bad. They do say, ‘We hate you but respect you at the same time’.”

Andrew Fifita, who has had his own moments polarising the Queensland public, quipped that his Sharks teammate was often booed as soon as he left the Shire.

The one thing Fifita expects to save Gallen on Thursday night is the bigger Sharks’ fans’ presence in the stands.

When Gallen overheard Fifita say this to the Herald, he marched over and said, “I’ll bet you coffees for a week that won’t be the case”.

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“We played on the Gold Coast and we had more fans than them last year,” Fifita said.

“I didn’t realise we had that many Sharks fans in Queensland. They turn up.

“Nobody loves Gal. As soon he leaves the ‘bubble’, which we call it in the Shire, it’s on, everybody hates him.”

The Sharks have already played in Townsville and Brisbane this season, and do not meet the Titans in their own backyard. Should Cronulla reach the finals, they are unlikely to head north because of the three woeful starts by the Queensland clubs.

Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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