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Gallen bows out with Brookvale loss

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14th September, 2019
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The NRL career of Paul Gallen has come to an end after Cronulla were defeated by Manly in their elimination final.

Cronulla were down by 14 when they dropped the ball on the hour mark and Paul Gallen, sitting on the bench in a puffy jacket, put his head in his hands.

Moments later, the Sharks were pinged for a high tackle.

Gallen, the man who famously skippered the club to their maiden NRL premiership three years ago, then sunk a little deeper into his plastic chair.

Perhaps it was at this moment, on a brisk Saturday night on the northern beaches, that arguably the greatest Shark realised his career was over.

After 348 games, father time had finally defeated the NRL’s oldest player.

Paul Gallen Sharks

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Manly played a major role in his ending, too, defying their depleted line-up to produce one of the bravest finals upsets in recent memory.

In 2014, Gallen was famously crowned Wally Lewis medallist after leading a courageous NSW to a drought-breaking State of Origin triumph.

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But the 38-year-old was near powerless to stop this Sea Eagles’ ambush.

He was substituted after 32 minutes with his team down 18-0, and curiously didn’t re-enter the game until Manly sealed victory with eight minutes left.

He finished with just 99 metres from 13 runs, with one offload and 18 tackles – a far cry from the dizzying numbers he delivered on a weekly basis in his prime.

“It’s all got to come to an end. I’ve had a terrific career. I’ve had a great time at this club. It is what it is… that’s it,” Gallen said post-game.

“Thanks very much the Sharkies fans. You’ve been unreal. You’ve shown me loyalty, I’ve shown you loyalty. Thanks for the past 20 years, Cronulla.”

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Sharks coach John Morris later revealed Gallen had struggled with a calf issue in the lead-up to the match, but was never going to rule him out.

“That was bothering him a bit going in, definitely,” Morris said.

“And I think he copped a whack on his shoulder as well, he’s bleeding from the head, so he copped a bit of a battering there.

“But that wouldn’t have worried him… He did have a bit going against him in the background, but he’s Paul Gallen. He’s had that his whole career.

“He manages to push through him without saying much. I’ll probably find out now he’s had a pretty decent injury that he was playing with.”

A three-time Dally M lock of the year, Gallen also bows out with 32 Tests for Australia and 24 State of Origin matches for NSW.

© AAP