Enduring warrior Gallen suffers heartbreak finale
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.