All the jobs Paul Gallen trained for because he was scared he wouldn’t make it in the NRL
Paul Gallen has played nearly 350 NRL games. He’s represented Australia 32 times, captained New South Wales to a drought breaking State of Origin series win and most memorably led the Cronulla Sharks to their maiden – and long awaited – Premiership.
But it wasn’t always a sure thing he would reach those heights.
In the lead up to his final ever game at Shark Park, the veteran forward told David Morrow and Mat Thompson about how different things were for him in the years after making his NRL debut in 2001.
“I remember coming off contract in those early days. I remember how scared I was not knowing what I was going to do with my life because I’d put so much into Rugby League,” Gallen said.
“I was never guaranteed to get that next contract.
“I’d do all sorts of personal training courses, real estate courses, a plumbing apprenticeship.
“I did all these things to try and make sure that I had something else behind me.
“Thankfully the footy kept paying off and I kept getting contracts.
“By about 2004 or 2005 I’d cemented myself (in the side) and became really confident in what I was doing and the rest is history, I’ve been here ever since.”
Gallen became not only the heart and soul of the playing group but also the face of the club through some very dark times for Cronulla-Sutherland.
He admitted that there were a few times that he came within a whisker of leaving the only club he’d ever played first grade for.
“(At the end of 2007) I was very close to going to Manly. I actually spent a week there to look for a house. That was close,” Gallen said.
“When Ricky Stuart left the club in 2010 I had a coach clause in my contract and that was pretty close again.
“The other opportunity was at the end of 2017.
“Newcastle offered me the biggest deal of my career.
“I chose to stay at Cronulla. It would’ve been more money that one year at Newcastle than I’ve earned the past two years.
“Probably not the smartest thing financially but I’m happy with the decision I’ve made.”
As are Sharks fans who can happily claim sole bragging rights to the enforcer now that he will always be a one club player.
Gallen will play his 167th and final match at Shark Park (now known as PointsBet Stadium) on Sunday – more than any other player has played at a single NRL venue.
Surely that adds another set to the great partnerships of Australian sport. Lillee and Thompson. Bowman and Winx. Gallen and Shark Park.
Click PLAY below to listen to Paul Gallen’s reflections on his career.