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Cronulla crisis: Greg Bird sings praises of Paul Gallen's mental toughness

Date

Michael Carayannis

"I would have loved to have been a one club player": Bird.

"I would have loved to have been a one club player": Bird. Photo: Getty Images

Blues enforcer Greg Bird has praised skipper Paul Gallen's resolve following what seems to be the never ending drama at Bird's former club, Cronulla.

The pair became close during Bird's seven-year stint at the Sharks, which ended in 2008 when he was sacked after being charged with assaulting his then-girlfriend. He was found not guilty of the assault.

Bird said he felt sympathy towards his old club following Todd Carney's sacking, Peter Sharp standing down and the investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority into the Sharks.

"I would have loved to have been a one club player," Bird said. "I never had any intention of leaving. It was circumstances which worked out that way.

"The drama these guys are going through, I don't envy that. I just hope the club gets sorted out. The players don't deserve to deal with it every day, the coaches, ASADA scandals, player scandals. It's a shame for the rest of the boys."

When asked if he now felt relief that he was not part of the club, Bird replied: "Hindsight is a wonderful thing."

Regardless, the Gold Coast Titans co-captain has watched first hand the impact the club's troubles have had on Gallen. He praised Gallen's mental toughness. 

"You see it impact on everyone," Bird said. "He is the captain of the club and state, he carries it. It doesn't affect his game when he crosses the white line. There are no thoughts on any dramas that have happened off the field, he just goes out and plays his game.

 "Going through any off-field drama can be quite tolling. You are paid to be a footballer. It's a good way to vent your frustration to get out on the field and do what you love doing and forget about everything else that's happened."

Bird was considered for the Sharks captaincy when then Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart handed Gallen the full-time position in 2008. Gallen had a tough initiation as skipper – stepping down from the role a year later before reclaiming the title in 2011, and has gone on to captain the Blues in the past four Origin series.

"Gal has matured," Bird said. "He had a lot of shit in him early in his career at Cronulla and he copped a lot of criticism for it. Really when Sticky [Stuart] made him captain there he cleaned up his game. He went from being one of the players everyone hates in the NRL to NSW's saviour, and he deserves it. He has put a lot of work in.

 "He has always been a leader. When we came through Cronulla, we were both quite young. It was an ageing side. We played two or three years and nearly the whole senior squad had retired and moved on, there was really only Brett Kimmorley above us.

"He took on a leader role from that stage. He has really grown and matured as a player from there."

7 comments so far

  • Laudable effort by Mr Bird.

    Perhaps he might also mention to his pal that he ("Gal") is not bigger than the game, and definitely not bigger than his club

    Commenter
    John B
    Location
    Ryde
    Date and time
    July 04, 2014, 6:14AM
    • Anyone think that perhaps Mr Gallen is part of the ongoing problems at Cronulla? Sure he can play but his attitude and demeanour aren't exactly a shining light for the game.

      Commenter
      Benji
      Date and time
      July 04, 2014, 10:11AM
      • Yea totally agree.While Gallen is a tremendous player his public outbreaks of late are that of swollen headed self important person not a "leader' of men.His degradation of Mr Sharp was totally unwarranted,he has likened his team mates to school children then to top it all off he said he was glad to be out of Sharks to play Origin and leave others to sort the mess.
        Farrah is also starting to sound swollen headed with his claim that he better than Cameron Smith and his boof headed on field verbals with refs is over the top.
        Sure they won Origin but a little common sense and humility would be better than all this talk which includes a lot of "I" no "We" in it.
        Sadly their attitude will not help an Origin win this week.

        Commenter
        Jacko
        Location
        Warriorville
        Date and time
        July 04, 2014, 11:24AM
    • Yes, blaming everyone else for all the problems of all the individuals and teams he's been involved with is a real sign of maturity.

      Commenter
      Phat
      Date and time
      July 04, 2014, 10:35AM
      • Do you mean his attitude of going to visit sick kids in hospital without inviting tv crews along with him? Or raising more money for charity this year alone than you ever will in your lifetime?

        Commenter
        Greg
        Date and time
        July 04, 2014, 12:43PM
        • +1

          Commenter
          Lisa
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          July 04, 2014, 1:43PM
      • yeah real tough....Paul 'swinging arm' Gallen would be the biggest coward on the field...a grub

        Commenter
        Paul
        Location
        brisbane
        Date and time
        July 04, 2014, 2:11PM

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