It’s been one of the major talking points in the lead-up to this year’s representative fixtures: after 21 Origins and 31 test appearances, VB Blues captain Paul Gallen has officially called the 2016 series the last in an esteemed representative career. New South Welshmen everywhere, however, will be buoyed by the fact that Gallen is raring to run around for the Blues one final time in the hunt for another series win.
Speaking at the NSWRL’s True Blues Black Tie Dinner, in which many of the current and former NSW representatives came together in recognition of their service, the skipper told NSWRL.com.au of his progress three weeks after returning from a potentially career-ending knee injury.
“I feel good I think I’m going to get some games under my belt now and some training,” Gallen said. “I didn’t get to do a lot of training throughout January and February, so just to be able to get back-to-back weeks in and three games straight now, it’s good for my fitness. The more I can do that the better I’ll be in the next six weeks.”
Plenty of talk recently has centred on the likelihood of an Australian test selection for Gallen, with traditional Queensland foe Mal Meaning mentoring the Kangaroos for the first time against the Kiwis on the 6th of May. With three strong showings since returning to the NRL in Round 5, however, the current Australian vice-captain hasn’t been perturbed by the questioning of his international credentials.
“Whatever happens with the Australian team happens,” Gallen said. “As long as I can be there and just be able to do the job for the team I’ll be happy, so we’ll see what happens.”
Gallen is not yet a retired legend of the NSW jersey, but he soon will be - and the NSW True Blues event was a good opportunity for the 34-year-old to not only catch up with the current crop ahead of another gruelling Origin series, but to mingle with some past greats.
“As a kid growing up, you get to watch all these blokes - even as a teenager and as a bloke coming through the grades,” Gallen said. “I just saw Steve Menzies and I actually roomed with him on my debut Origin match so yeah it’s really good to be able to catch up.
“It’s good to catch up with Laurie (Daley) and catch up with the current players, that’s certainly a good thing. It’s really hard during the season because we’ve all got different schedules and playing at different times and different training times, but we do try to catch up when we can. Then obviously there’s just some of the legends of the New South Wales jersey.”
It will be the last time he pulls on that jersey as a player this year, but the series-winning captain is as determined as ever to bring glory back to his state in 2016.