Will Big Gal leave a large legacy when he retires?
You get the feeling that Paul Gallen isn’t too concerned about how he’ll be remembered when his playing days are over. He’s managed to turn around his bad boy image to be one of the most respected forwards in the game today.
Remember the player who would grab at an open wound on the head of an opponent, or the guy who was incapable of having a conversation with a referee?
These days the fire still burns in the belly but the man is more focussed and less of a liability.
One day in the future, when he’s sitting in-front of a packed press conference, you wonder just where he’ll sit in relation to the greats of the game.
You see, for all his toughness, Gallen has never had a great relationship with success.
Club games usually end with the forward telling a reporter that his side lacked the killer instinct or didn’t have enough composure.
Gallen comes off the field exhausted week in and week out, but on most occasions has very little to show for his efforts except bumps and bruises.
So, what defines a player at the end of his career?
Is it a ferocious appetite for competition or the silverware that comes from winning the battle?
He’s the captain of the New South Wales side, but will be one of the least successful players on the field at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night in terms of results.
Even the start of his State of Origin career in 2006 heralded the beginning of an era of Maroons dominance.
NSW had just been belted 30 to 6 in game two at Suncorp Stadium and Gallen was one of five changes to the Blues side for game three. The Blues lost 16 to 14 in Melbourne to hand Queensland a 2 – 1 series win, their first outright series victory since 2001.
The Blues are still trying to find a way to beat their rivals from north or the border.
He could’ve been part of a premiership winning team, but that opportunity also passed him by.
Gallen was close to signing with Manly at the end of the 2007 season after realising that his dream of playing semi-final football with Cronulla may stay just that.
He chose to stay in the Shire on less money and in 2008 the Sea Eagles went on to stun Melbourne in the Grand Final.
Gallen must have watched on and wondered what might have been. Despite all of that, no-one can deny Gallen is a champion of the game.
His mantle may be a little bare when his playing days are over, but he is the man who proves that trophies can’t be used to judge a career.
You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.
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