Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan admits inspirational skipper Paul Gallen would lace on a boot for NSW again on Wednesday if he could, with his game against the Bulldogs on Saturday night a typical dominating performance.
With the much-anticipated State of Origin series opener only four days away, the Sharks captain played his first regular round club fixture pre-Origin in almost a decade and the home side were the beneficiary after the stalwart came up with two match-winning plays.
The decision to retire from State of Origin last season was an immediate positive on-field for the Sharks as the side enters their first bye next week sitting in third position on the Telstra Premiership ladder.
Gallen managed to get back into the field of play that led to Gerard Beale racing away to the try-line, before busting up the middle before Chad Townsend slotted the match-winning field goal.
"I know he (Gallen) wants to be there on Wednesday night and not sitting in the grandstand either, but it is what it is and we reaped the benefit of that tonight," Flanagan said following the side's 9-8 victory over Canterbury on Saturday night.
"He's still good enough to play there but he made the decision it was time to give someone else a crack and that's hard for Gal.
"They were two really big plays in particular that he pulled off for us.
"Having Gal back during this period we got something out of him tonight that's for sure."
The Sharks skipper played down his efforts post-game and believed due to the State of Origin talk in the past week, the headlines will make his performance seem more than what it was.
"When you look at it, I made the same amount of runs I probably make and same tackles but sometimes you get lucky and one of those runs leads to a break," Gallen said.
"When I got out of the in-goal, it was just one of those things that fortunately happened for me so that's what I do, just put myself in the game and sometimes things come off."
With a couple of Sharks veterans in Luke Lewis and Chris Heighington off-contract at seasons end, Gallen's future has also been mentioned as the squad continues to develop around a strong leadership group.
"I just keep trying to do my job every week," Gallen said.
"I find my job for this team really easy now, it's simple and if I can get it done effectively then I'll keep doing it."
If Gallen does decide to play on beyond 2017, the 35-year-old all but confirmed it would not include a miracle comeback to the Origin arena regardless of the result in Game I on Wednesday night.
"I haven't missed the week, to be honest," he said.
"I'll miss the game but not the week. I don't have a lot of regrets about Origin.
"I made the decision last year with my family and had a good chat with "Flanno" about it.
"I still take pride in that NSW side, I've had something to do with every player bar Nathan Peats, and I can only see good things from them."
This article first appeared on NRL.com