Age no barrier for Gallen: Fifita
Posted on 09/28/19 11:45 PM
Paul Gallen’s age shouldn’t be a factor when he weighs up his NRL future this week, says teammate Andrew Fifita.
Gallen will become the only 37-year-old to play in the NRL this season when he runs out for Cronulla against North Queensland on Saturday, after he celebrated his birthday on Tuesday.
Off-contract at the end of the year, Gallen has confirmed he will sit down with coach Shane Flanagan this week to decide whether to extend his career into a 19th season.
A final decision will likely be made by Sunday week, as the Sharks want to be able to farewell Gallen in their final home game of the season against Newcastle if he does hang up the boots.
But Fifita said the veteran skipper’s age shouldn’t come into it, given he’s still ranked second at the club this year for run metres and tackles.
“I don’t know how old he is – he might be 44 or 46,” Fifita joked on Tuesday.
“For me as a player I look at him on the field. He’s doing his normal job, he’s doing what’s good for the team and he’s showing the little things he does in the team.
“For me age isn’t a factor. If he’s still keeping up with the game and keeping up with us he could sign on for however many years he wants.
“Gal can handle it, I know he can. He’s mentally tough and fit. He’s one of the best in the gym and even on the field he’s always competing with the other boys.”
Flanagan – who on Monday rated Gallen as the best player he’d coached at the club – will want his star lock to be wholly committed to another season if he does play on.
Regardless of his decision, Gallen could still take his place in the record books if the Sharks go on to win their second title this year.
If he does lift the trophy, he will become the second-oldest premiership winner of all-time according to League Information Services, and the oldest since 38-year-old George Green for North Sydney in 1922.
He has also made 50,938 running metres since his debut in 2011, the most on record by Fox Sports Stats and potentially the most of any player in the game’s history.
Gallen, who led Cronulla to their first and only premiership in 2016, told Nine’s 100% Footy earlier this week he still believed he had the hunger and passion to continue.
“People keep telling me you’ll know when you’ll want to retire,” he said.
“I don’t feel like I’m ready to retire yet but I’ll be guided by Flanno.”