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Gallen's grubby past


Chris Wilson

Paul Gallen and David Shillington come to blows during a match in 2008.

Paul Gallen and David Shillington come to blows during a match in 2008. Photo: Craig Golding

Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen still has blood on his hands, so it's offensive he can continue to point dirty fingers at others.

Before reviewing why Gallen decided to accuse 20-year-old Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii of a ''dog shot'' after last Sunday's semi-final loss in Canberra, maybe Gallen needs a reminder of his own colourful past.

Let's go back to 2008, when Gallen was a 26-year-old and already a New South Wales Origin representative. He was obviously a senior player by then, already captain of the Sharks too, before it was taken from him in 2009 because of the arrival of the more clean-cut Trent Barrett.

Paul Gallen grabs at the head bandages of Anthony Laffranchi in an incident that led to some commentators to call for him to be criminally charged.

Paul Gallen grabs at the head bandages of Anthony Laffranchi in an incident that led to some commentators to call for him to be criminally charged. Photo: Fox Sports

On March 29, 2008, television cameras captured Gallen deliberately sticking his fingers beneath the head-bandaging of Gold Coast Titans forward Anthony Laffranchi.

Laffranchi had received a head cut earlier in the match but, as the tough sport often requires, he had returned to the battlefield with stitching and bandages protecting the gash.

To a shark like Gallen, that was blood in the water. He gouged at the bandages like a kid sticking his fingers into a peanut-butter jar, re-opening the cut and forcing Laffranchi to leave the field again because of the blood-bin rule.

The NRL judiciary slapped Gallen on the wrist with a three-week ban.

Some media commentators had called for him to be jailed for common assault.

In the same match Gallen was accused of squeezing the testicles of Titans utility Josh Graham. That was never substantiated, but other NRL players then lined up to speak of Gallen's alleged dirty deeds.

Later that same year Gallen and Laffranchi would be teammates for the NSW Blues. But Gallen's the type of player who demonstrates unconditional loyalty to the men standing beside him and an absolute loathing for anyone opposite him. It's a big part of what makes him such a great player.

That same year, this time August, 2008, I remember reporting on a match between the Sharks and Sydney Roosters at Cronulla.

Now-Raiders skipper and then-Roosters prop David Shillington had been quoted in the lead-up to that match, describing the Sharks pack as ''not that impressive''.

There's more offensive passages in the Bible than that remark.

But a Sharks official had pinned the article to Gallen's locker before the game, knowing it would enrage their enforcer. In the opening set, Gallen was penalised for a choker-tackle on Shillington, the pair getting to their feet and trading blows.

Gallen pushed the boundaries the entire night, the referee keeping his whistle close to his lips and Gallen's tenacity keeping the Sharks well on top. Cronulla won 20-0.

Gallen and Shillington are Australian teammates but, knowing that history, I wasn't surprised to hear Shillington give credit to his young Raiders teammate Papalii for the job he did on Gallen last Sunday.

''Papa really stood up,'' Shillington said after the match. ''He got under him a few times and Gal didn't handle it very well.''

Gallen didn't handle the post-match press conference well, either. He began OK, leaving the matters on the field. But, provoked by a sour coach Shane Flanagan and prodded by the media pack, Gallen couldn't help himself.

''I really don't care about Papalii,'' Gallen said. ''He hit me with a dog shot with a swinging arm and once in the back without the ball.''

Gallen should have thought about his own past before trying to tarnish the future reputation of a young up-and-comer.

Gallen has worked hard on his image. His appointment as NSW skipper has coincided with him being more widely regarded as inspirational rather than irrational. But Gallen can't change his past.

It would have been interesting to hear what Gallen thought of his own Sharks teammates Jeremy Smith allegedly yanking on the injured ankle of Raiders fullback Josh Dugan. What if the shoe had been on the other foot?

It should be pointed out that the NRL's match review committee didn't find anything worth charging from last Sunday's game.

There is a role for enforcers and nigglers in rugby league. Not many people like them.

But hypocrites are worse.

Papalii was voted by NRL players as one of the hardest hitters in the NRL this year, just his second season in the NRL. But he's still a boy. He's quietly spoken, he lives with his younger brother and in the same unit complex as his parents, who have relocated to Canberra this year to provide family support.

He has supposedly been rattled by the attention on him this week, the Raiders removing him from media duties to protect him.

It hasn't stopped the media running with the story, experts trying to figure out who the ''next Ruben Wiki'' will target tonight.

According to reports, it could be anyone from South giant Dave Taylor to the roll-happy mascot Reggie Rabbit.

Shillington spoke earlier this week, admitting the Raiders could not fall into the trap of being baited by the Bunnies tonight.

Shillington has been guilty of it personally in the recent past. The last time the Raiders and Rabbitohs clashed this season, Shillington lashed out at Souths enforcer Sam Burgess after the English import got in his face and allegedly called him a 'geezer'.

Shillington has also had run-ins with Souths hooker Issac Luke, who attacked his legs in a cannonball-style tackle during last year's Four Nations tournament.

That's better left in the past if the Raiders want to win tonight. Better to focus on making history than reliving it.

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GCT 32vs PEN 6 Report Stats
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WST 22vs CBR 30 Report Stats
NEW 22vs PAR 28 Report Stats
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CRO 18vs SOU 10 Stats
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Round 8
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CBY 14vs WST 38 Stats
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NEW 24vs NQL 26 Report Stats
SYD 12vs STG 14 Report Stats
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BRI 28vs PAR 16 Stats
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SYD 36vs WST 4 Stats
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CBR 56vs GCT 16 Stats
CRO 16vs NZW 20 Stats
NQL 23vs CBY 16 Stats
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PAR 10vs MEL 28 Stats
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CBY 10vs SYD 24 Stats
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PAR 13vs NZW 17 Report Stats
GCT 22vs CRO 23 Report Stats
MEL 16vs SOU 12 Stats
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STG 32vs CBR 18 Report Stats
NEW 22vs WST 12 Stats
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MAN 10vs PEN 11 Stats
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Round 11
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WST 0vs NQL 8 Report Stats
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Round 12
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PEN 20vs PAR 26 Stats
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GCT 16vs SOU 22 Report Stats
CBR 12vs BRI 24 Stats
NQL 18vs MAN 14 Report Stats
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NZW 24vs NEW 20 Stats
STG 42vs CRO 6 Stats
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Round 13
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NEW 22vs CBR 44 Stats
SOU 36vs NZW 4 Stats
PEN 0vs MEL 20 Report Stats
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CRO 10vs SYD 4 Stats
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CBY 29vs STG 16 Stats
PAR 30vs NQL 36 Report Stats
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WST 34vs SOU 6 Report Stats
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NZW 21vs SYD 25 Report Stats
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GCT 28vs CBY 14 Stats
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Round 15
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MAN 30vs WST 20 Report Stats
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CBR 20vs NQL 21 Report Stats
GCT 14vs NZW 36 Report Stats
CBY 24vs PEN 12 Report Stats
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NEW 28vs CRO 30 Report Stats
MEL 12vs BRI 14 Report Stats
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STG 14vs SYD 19 Report Stats
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Round 16
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI 44vs NEW 22 Stats
SOU 20vs MAN 8 Report Stats
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW 30vs CBR 8 Stats
NQL 18vs CRO 24 Report Stats
PAR 16vs STG 12 Report Stats
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD 20vs GCT 10 Stats
WST 12vs PEN 35 Stats
Mon, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY 20vs MEL 4 Report Stats
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Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN 20vs SOU 6 Report Stats
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
STG 12vs NQL 18 Report Stats
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN 28vs CRO 16 Report Stats
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WST 16vs PAR 28 Stats
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CBR 36vs NEW 22 Stats
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PEN 4vs SYD 24 Stats
CBY 8vs BRI 16 Stats
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NZW 28vs MEL 14 Report Stats
CRO 28vs STG 8 Report Stats
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GCT 6vs MAN 38 Stats
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PAR 4vs CBY 28 Report Stats
MEL 52vs PEN 10 Report Stats
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NEW 30vs GCT 2 Report Stats
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MAN 12vs NQL 30 Stats
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Round 20
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BRI 34vs GCT 0 Report Stats
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NZW 12vs MAN 32 Stats
MEL 22vs STG 4 Stats
SOU 52vs NEW 6 Stats
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CBY 16vs CRO 18 Report Stats
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Round 21
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NQL 32vs CBR 24 Stats
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Round 22
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BRI 16vs CBY 18 Report Stats
MAN 28vs SOU 8 Stats
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NZW 0vs STG 36 Stats
CRO 30vs NQL 18 Stats
PAR 10vs PEN 4 Stats
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MEL 36vs GCT 14 Report Stats
NEW 22vs SYD 38 Report Stats
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CBR 18vs WST 20 Stats
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Round 23
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NQL 18vs SOU 31 Stats
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BRI 32vs STG 6 Report Stats
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WST 18vs NEW 24 Stats
PEN 24vs NZW 10 Stats
SYD 28vs PAR 18 Stats
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CBR 24vs MAN 26 Stats
CBY 36vs GCT 14 Report Stats
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CRO 2vs MEL 30 Stats
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Round 24
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STG 19vs PEN 12 Report Stats
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SOU 18vs CBY 32 Report Stats
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
CRO 40vs WST 18 Report Stats
NZW 16vs NQL 50 Report Stats
SYD 12vs BRI 10 Report Stats
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
GCT 28vs CBR 12 Stats
MAN 16vs PAR 20 Report Stats
Mon, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 6vs NEW 20 Report Stats
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Round 25
Thu, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
SOU 12vs BRI 47 Report Stats
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
MAN 10vs SYD 46 Report Stats
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
PAR 28vs CRO 35 Stats
NEW 18vs CBY 20 Stats
MEL 14vs NQL 6 Report Stats
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
WST 50vs NZW 16 Report Stats
GCT 28vs STG 26 Stats
Mon, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
CBR 34vs PEN 18 Stats
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Round 26
Thu, 03 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI 8vs MEL 15 Report Stats
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 30vs SOU 0 Report Stats
Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
PEN 30vs NEW 12 Stats
STG 32vs WST 30 Stats
NQL 42vs GCT 12 Stats
Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
PAR 24vs CBR 28 Stats
CRO 12vs MAN 14 Stats
CBY 26vs NZW 22 Stats
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CBY 11vs STG 10 Report Stats
BRI 16vs NQL 12 Report Stats
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CRO 28vs SOU 12 Report Stats
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Telstra Premiership Finals Round 2
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SYD 38vs CBY 12 Report Stats
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NQL 39vs CRO 0 Report Stats
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Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI 31vs SYD 12 Stats
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MEL 12vs NQL 32 Stats
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BRI 16vs NQL 17 Report Stats
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Brisbane Broncos 24 17 7 0 195 38
North Queensland Cowboys 24 17 7 0 133 38
Melbourne Storm 24 14 10 0 119 32
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24 14 10 0 42 32
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 24 14 10 0 -7 32
South Sydney Rabbitohs 24 13 11 0 -2 30
St George-Illawarra Dragons 24 12 12 0 27 28
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