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Gallen's grubby past

Date

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 ...

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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MAN vs CBY 20:05BO
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CBR vs PEN 15:00GIO
WST vs NZW 17:30CSS
NQL vs CRO 19:301300
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SYD vs SOU 16:00AS
GCT vs NEW 18:30Cbus
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CBR vs SYD 15:00GIO
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PEN vs NQL 19:30Pepp
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CBY vs NZW 17:30Westpac Stadium
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CBY vs GCT 15:00ANZ
CBR vs WST 17:30GIO
NQL vs PAR 19:301300
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CRO vs PEN 16:00Shark Park
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NEW vs MAN 14:00HS
STG vs SYD 16:00AS
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Round 9
Thu, 28 AprTimes shown AEST
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PAR vs CBY 19:50ANZ
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PEN vs CBR 15:00Carrington Park
SYD vs NEW 17:30CCS
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Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
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GCT vs MEL 14:00Cbus
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Thu, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
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Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
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Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN vs NZW 15:00AMI Stadium
MEL vs NQL 17:30SUN
MAN vs BRI 19:30SUN
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NEW vs CRO 14:00HS
WST vs CBY 16:00ANZ
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GCT vs SYD 19:00Cbus
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Round 11
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SOU vs STG 19:50ANZ
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
NQL vs BRI 19:501300
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
WST vs NEW 15:00CSS
NZW vs CBR 17:30Yarrow Stadium
CRO vs MAN 19:30Shark Park
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
PEN vs GCT 14:00Pepp
CBY vs SYD 16:00ANZ
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Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WST 19:50SUN
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
STG vs NQL 19:30WIN
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CBR vs CBY 16:00GIO
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NEW vs PAR 19:00HS
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Round 13
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
CBR vs MAN 19:50GIO
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW vs BRI 15:00MSS
NQL vs NEW 17:301300
MEL vs PEN 19:30AAMI
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WST 16:00AS
SOU vs GCT 18:30nib Stadium
Mon, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CBY vs CRO 19:00ANZ
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Thu, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CBR 19:50SUN
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
WST vs SOU 19:50ANZ
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs NZW 15:00HS
PAR vs GCT 17:30TIO
SYD vs MEL 19:30AS
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
MAN vs PEN 16:00BO
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs CBY 16:00ANZ
CRO vs NQL 19:00Shark Park
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Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
SOU vs PAR 19:50ANZ
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
STG vs MEL 19:30WIN
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
NZW vs SYD 16:00MSS
Mon, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
GCT vs MAN 19:00Cbus
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Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
PEN vs SOU 19:50Pepp
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
NEW vs STG 15:00HS
CRO vs NZW 17:30Shark Park
CBY vs BRI 19:30ANZ
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GCT vs CBR 14:00Cbus
MEL vs WST 16:00AAMI
Mon, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
NQL vs MAN 19:001300
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Round 17
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Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
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WST vs PEN 17:30ANZ
CRO vs PAR 19:30Shark Park
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SOU vs NQL 16:00Barlow Park
Mon, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs STG 19:00BO
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Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
PAR vs SYD 19:50Pirtek
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
CBY vs WST 19:30ANZ
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
PEN vs CRO 16:00Pepp
Mon, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NQL 19:00GIO
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Round 19
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
STG vs GCT 19:50Jubilee Oval
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
MAN vs NZW 17:30nib Stadium
SOU vs BRI 19:30ANZ
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NEW vs MEL 14:00HS
PEN vs PAR 16:00Pepp
Mon, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CRO 19:00AS
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Round 20
Thu, 21 JulTimes shown AEST
NQL vs CBY 19:501300
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI vs PEN 19:50SUN
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
CBR vs NZW 15:00GIO
GCT vs PAR 17:30Cbus
MEL vs SYD 19:30AAMI
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CRO vs NEW 14:00Shark Park
STG vs WST 16:00ANZ
Mon, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
SOU vs MAN 19:00ANZ
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Round 21
Wed, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
NZW vs PEN 22:00MSS
Thu, 28 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs BRI 00:00AS
CBY vs STG 00:00ANZ
GCT vs CRO 00:00Cbus
PAR vs WST 00:00ANZ
SOU vs CBR 00:00ANZ
MAN vs NEW 00:00BO
NQL vs MEL 00:001300
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Round 22
Thu, 04 AugTimes shown AEST
STG vs BRI 00:00WIN
PAR vs MAN 00:00Pirtek
CRO vs CBR 00:00Shark Park
NEW vs CBY 00:00HS
MEL vs SOU 00:00AAMI
GCT vs NZW 00:00Cbus
WST vs NQL 00:00VAS
PEN vs SYD 00:00Pepp
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Round 23
Wed, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs SOU 22:00MSS
Thu, 11 AugTimes shown AEST
CBY vs MAN 00:00ANZ
BRI vs PAR 00:00SUN
WST vs GCT 00:00CSS
STG vs CRO 00:00Jubilee Oval
NEW vs PEN 00:00HS
SYD vs NQL 00:00AS
CBR vs MEL 00:00GIO
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Round 24
Thu, 18 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CBY 00:00SUN
SYD vs STG 00:00AS
NEW vs GCT 00:00HS
NQL vs NZW 00:001300
MAN vs MEL 00:00BO
CBR vs PAR 00:00GIO
PEN vs WST 00:00Pepp
SOU vs CRO 00:00ANZ
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Round 25
Wed, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs WST 22:00MSS
Thu, 25 AugTimes shown AEST
CBY vs NQL 00:00Belmore Sports Ground
MEL vs BRI 00:00AAMI
GCT vs PEN 00:00Cbus
MAN vs CBR 00:00BO
CRO vs SYD 00:00Shark Park
NEW vs SOU 00:00HS
PAR vs STG 00:00Pirtek
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Round 26
Wed, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
NZW vs PAR 22:00MSS
Thu, 01 SepTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 00:00SUN
CBY vs SOU 00:00ANZ
STG vs NEW 00:00Jubilee Oval
NQL vs GCT 00:001300
MEL vs CRO 00:00AAMI
WST vs CBR 00:00VAS
PEN vs MAN 00:00Pepp
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