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No Smith, no chance: Paul Gallen’s answer to Queensland’s problem


With roughly six weeks remaining until State of Origin Game 1, Queensland appears to have a problem.

“They’re out of troops,” as aptly summed up by Mat Thompson.

A string of unfortunate events is undoubtedly giving Maroons coach Kevin Walters a headache on top of an obvious selection predicament.

Greg Inglis, last year’s captain, announced his sudden retirement from the game earlier this month. Leadership contenders Daly Cherry-Evans has an injured ankle and Roosters skipper Jake Friend tore his bicep off the bone.

A lack of obvious leaders and a dearth of kicking options has fanned the flames of a spicy State of Origin storyline:

The return of the messiah. All hail Cameron Smith.

Paul Gallen is the opposite of a Queensland fan favourite and has an obvious answer to the question of whether he’d like to see Smith pull on a maroon jumper once more.

“Well, as a New South Welshman, I hope he doesn’t” Gallen told David Morrow and Mat Thompson.

“He’s still the best player in the game in my opinion, he’s a class act,

“I think they need him to be honest, he’s a big difference in why the Blues won last year,

“He’s so dangerous out of dummy half, his kicking game is impeccable, his passing game, his timing around the ruck, he’s the best in the game still,

“If they’re a big chance of winning they need Cameron Smith.”

Smith retired from representative footy last year after realising he could no longer back up after an Origin match to play for his club. Asked whether Smith would be prepared to jeopardise a potential Melbourne Storm premiership for a brief return to the glory of Origin, Gallen suspects the choice would be an easy one.

“Probably winning a premiership to finish off his time at Melbourne,

“He’s won plenty of Origin series and he’s won a couple of comps too but I think winning the premiership would be the ultimate for him,

“If he did win the premiership this year, maybe he would pull the pin – you never know, particularly because he’s going to surpass the 400 game mark already.”

The same question was asked of Gallen, whether he would return to the Blues and play origin once more if his state called on his service and his response was emphatic.

“No, I wouldn’t, not at this stage, not where I’m at at the moment, no way,” he said.

“It’s too hard, you’re playing a whole season in three games, it’s a 6 or 8 week period – it’s a whole season,

“You’ve got that 8 or 9 days in camp, it’s in the paper every single day, it’s like club football goes out the window and it’s purely about NSW vs Queensland,

“Each one of those games is like a Grand Final, you have to get yourself up for that and then depending on the result, [it affects] how you go back to club level,

“If you win you go back on a high you perform that week no problem, but if you don’t win, you’ve got to get yourself back up again three days later,

“On top of that, it’s the hardest football in the world to play, it’s fast, it’s tough, every tackle you feel,

“There’s no way I could come back and play State of Origin at this stage, no way.”

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