Gallen wrangled Sharks at NSW Origin camps

NRL great Paul Gallen admits he used NSW State of Origin camps to recruit players for Cronulla in a desperate bid to break his premiership duck.

PAUL GALLEN of the Sharks.
PAUL GALLEN of the Sharks. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

After twice missing a chance to win a title with Manly, Paul Gallen admits he used NSW State of Origin camps to recruit players for Cronulla in a desperate bid to break his NRL premiership duck.

Gallen's affection for the Sharks can not be questioned after he remained a one-club man throughout his 348-game NRL career before retiring last year.

But the former Cronulla skipper says there were times he rued his loyalty, not least when he knocked back Sea Eagles deals in 2007 and again in 2010 - and on both occasions watched them win the competition the following season.

Gallen's frustration prompted him to hatch a cunning plan with Sharks coach Shane Flanagan.

"Once that 2011 premiership was won by Manly, I said to Flanno 'mate, I'm not retiring until I win a comp'," Gallen told Wide World of Sports.

"(So) I'd go into Origin camps and I'd talk to everyone.

"Whenever there was a player off contract (in NSW camp), I'd ring Flanno (and say) 'Flanno, you want me to ring him?'.

"And he'd say, 'Yeah, mate, let's do it'.

"We worked really well together like that, me and Flanno, and we did get guys."

Gallen's two prized recruits were Wade Graham and Luke Lewis, both lured from Penrith.

After getting into Graham's ear in Blues camp, Gallen still had to make a last-ditch pitch on the phone to stop him heading to North Queensland in 2011.

"Wade Graham was going to go to the Cowboys and a phone call from me got him over the line," Gallen said.

Lewis followed Graham to Cronulla two years later - much to Gallen's initial surprise.

"Lewie rang me one day and said, 'Gal, I'm coming to play at Cronulla with ya'," Gallen said.

"I'm like, 'mate, you're on a million dollars a year at Penrith, you're their best player, what's going on?'.

"He goes, 'nah, I've had enough, I'm leaving'. Sure enough, Flanno rings me two days later (and says) 'mate, this is a chance of happening' and we get Luke Lewis."

History shows Gallen, Graham and Lewis went on to star in the 2016 premiership win that broke Cronulla's 49-year title drought, with the latter receiving the Clive Churchill Medal.


AAP