Action man: NSW skipper Paul Gallen in Robocop mode at the movie’s DVD launch on Thursday. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Paul Gallen has vowed to ignore the pain of a neck injury and play on.The Blues skipper is still unable to fully move his neck more than a week after leading NSW to victory against Queensland.
Gallen's neck has been a continuing problem for him since he injured it in Cronulla's final game of their 2012 NRL campaign. The injury became worse at the back end of last year's season, but it has become more problematic for Gallen, who has endured multiple "burners" – a nerve injury – in his neck this year, including two against the Wests Tigers.
The injury was aggravated with severe whiplash when Gallen was collected off-guard, after he had passed the ball, by Queensland back-rower Josh Papalii last Wednesday.
Gallen, who spent more than three hours getting transformed to look like Robocop to help launch the movie on DVD on Thursday, said he was confident the injury would not interfere with his Origin preparation.
"It's not career threatening," he said. "It's just something I've got to deal with. The reason I'm not playing this week is probably because of the whiplash. The nerve damage has been there for a long time. It's something I can deal with.
"It was extra sore on this occasion from because of the whiplash.
"We have injections and treatments all the time. That was one of the more unpleasant ones. Just nerve-wracking because of the area it is. They stick it into your nerve and you feel the burning sensation come on until the local [anaesthetic] takes effect."
Gallen had a cortisone injection last Friday, but will miss Cronulla's match against St George Illawarra on Saturday. It continued a run of injuries for him.
He has featured in five games for the Sharks this season after missing a large chunk of the year with an ankle injury.
"I said to club physio – who doesn't have to worry about Origin – 'take Origin out of it, can I play this week?' " Gallen said. "Their answer was that I probably could get through it but it wouldn't be the smartest thing for the health of my neck in the long term.
"That made my decision easier. I don't like missing out on games, especially with the situation we are in at the Sharks. The area that is, being your neck, it's serious. I'm better off getting it right and I'll be 100 per cent for game two and finish off the year of the Sharks."
Gallen renewed his on-field rivalry with Papalii, who again knocked the wind out of his Australian teammate. It was Papalii who first caused Gallen's problems in 2012 with what Gallen described as a "dog shot". The pair struck up a friendship as part of Australia's World Cup winning team last year, but that didn't stop Papalii collecting Gallen again.
"I've had a lot of people say that he has got me," Gallen said. "He has hit me twice in the back.
"If he has it over me he can have that. That's not going to concern me one bit.
"I get on really well with him. Every extra session I did [in Britain] he did with me. There is no problem there at all. That's the reason I haven't blown up about it. I know I called it a dog shot a couple of years ago when the media got me to bite. He is a top bloke.
"It's part of the game. I just get on with it. He is too big [to target], he is 115 kilos. I'm not concerned about personal battles."