En­dur­ing war­rior Gallen suf­fers heart­break fi­nale

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORTS - JAMES PHELPS

IT wasn’t the end that one of the game’s great­est war­riors de­served.

All heart and soul, the cap­tain that broke Cronulla’s 50-year pre­mier­ship drought, Paul Gallen ended his coura­geous one-club ca­reer in heart­break when the Sharks were handed a shock fi­nals flog­ging. De­nied a fairy­tale fin­ish, his last game in­stead played on a sub­ur­ban oval, Gallen was em­braced by his team­mates as the siren sounded on his 19-year ca­reer.

“I think next year it will be hard (watch­ing from the side­lines),’’ Gallen said. “But it all has to come to an end.

“I have had a ter­rific ca­reer and played in every game there is to play around the world.’’

Gallen played his fi­nal match with a calf in­jury and was a true NRL war­rior to the very end.

“I’ll have had a great time at this club,’’ Gallen said.

“And I thank the club and all my previous coaches for ev­ery­thing they have done for me.

“It is what it is. It has come to an end.’’

In the ultimate trib­ute, even the Manly fans gave Gallen a stand­ing ova­tion af­ter full­time. “Many were too good for us tonight,’’ Gallen said.

“Thanks to all the Sharks fans, you have been un­real. You have shown me loy­alty and I have shown you loy­alty.

“We have done ev­ery­thing to­gether. The highs and the lows. We got there in 2016. Thanks for the last 20 years, Cronulla.’’

Sharks coach John Morris apol­o­gised on be­half of his team for not be­ing able to send Gallen out a win­ner.

“I am pretty sad about that and I can only say sorry,’’ Morris said.

“I wanted to send him out on a high. The boys wanted to do some­thing spe­cial for him.

“We should have done bet­ter for a bloke that has left such a legacy for this club. He is the ultimate war­rior and pro­fes­sional and we will cer­tainly miss him on the field

“He has left his mark on this club and on the game.’’

Paul Gallen is com­forted by son Kody af­ter the match.

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