Gallen eyes off 96-year NRL record
Posted on 03/1/19 2:53 PM
Cronulla skipper could become the oldest player in 96 years to win an NRL premiership.On the eve of his 37th birthday Cronulla ironman Paul Gallen has a nearly century-old Australian rugby league record in his sights.
As Gallen on Tuesday blows out the candles on his cake, he will do so in the knowledge that his side is well entrenched in the premiership race following the weekend’s stirring victory over Melbourne.
Should the Sharks lift the Provan-Summons trophy for the second time in three years, Gallen will become the oldest player in 96 years to be crowned a premiership-winner.
The Sharks skipper will be 37 years one month and 16 days old on grand final day on September 30.
According to League Information Services, George Green – who was 38 years, eight months and 20 days when he won the 1922 NSWRL final with North Sydney – is the oldest known premiership winner.
Gallen would slot in behind Green if the Sharks are successful.
Since debuting in 2001, Gallen has made 50,938 metres – an average of 159m per game.
While records of this kind are incomplete, Fox Sports Stats believe it to be an all-time league record given the number of games which are played in the modern era.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan is still waiting on a decision from Gallen about whether he intends to continue on next year but any which way says he’ll be remembered as one of Cronulla’s finest.
“He’s the best player I’ve ever had at the club,” Flanagan said.
“He’s the hardest working and he’s up there with the ETs (Andrew Ettingshausen) and the Steve Rogers’s.
“I’m not putting many in front of him. He’s the captain of our first premiership.”
Should Gallen continue on next year, he will become the first player in league history to play a 19th season.
It’s also believed he is the 10th oldest player to ever play first-grade, though only 70 per cent of players have had their birthdate established.
Sharks officials are eagerly awaiting a decision on whether Gallen will play on so that they can give one of their greatest servants a deserving send off.
Should he decide to hang up the boots, next Sunday’s clash with Newcastle will be his final game at Southern Cross Group Stadium and the club would want to pay a fitting tribute.
Flanagan said Gallen would be remembered by the Sharks as someone who went above and beyond – whether it was on the training paddock and field, mentoring younger players or helping out back-room staff to ensure the club survived.
“There were times we didn’t have a CEO, we didn’t have a recruitment officer,” Flanagan said.
“There were a lot of times I’d need Gal to ring players to go and have a chat with them and try and attract those elite players to our club.
“Whether it was having a chat to Luke Lewis or a Jeremy Smith, he always helped.”
ALL ABOARD THE G-TRAIN
Paul Gallen’s career by the numbers
* Debut: v Parramatta, round 15, 2001
* 321 games, 32 Tests, 24 State of Origins
* 50,938 metres (159 per game)
* 8,562 tackles (26.7 per game)
* 6034 hit ups (18.8 per game)
* 2018 – 133 metres per game (7th most for forwards in NRL this year), 26.6 tackles per game, 58 minutes per game
Source: Fox Sports Stats.