WELL-RESPECTED: Blues forward Paul Gallen, who will lead his state in game two of the State of Origin at Suncorp Stadium.
WELL-RESPECTED: Blues forward Paul Gallen, who will lead his state in game two of the State of Origin at Suncorp Stadium. PAUL MILLER

Blues enforcer commands respect

RUGBY LEAGUE: Paul Gallen might be the most hated New South Wales player for fans north of the border but Queensland captain Cameron Smith openly rates his Blues rival highly.

Gallen, who has declared this Origin series will be his last, will equal the record number of games as NSW captain, held by former Newcastle hooker Danny Buderus, when he leads the Blues in a must-win clash at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.

It’s a fair bet most of the 52,000-strong crowd will give him plenty of grief, but Gallen would not have it any other way.

Some players don’t see eye to eye with the way Gallen plays, but Smith, who is also the Kangaroos captain, sung the praises of the tough NSW and Australian forward before they butt heads.

“There’s always going to be people saying negative things about your career and he is going to have a couple of those people when he retires,” Smith said.

“But for mine, I think he has been a wonderful player for NSW for a long time.

“I have played alongside him in the Australian team and I feel very lucky to have played alongside a guy like that and very fortunate to have a person like that in my football side.

“Paul has been a wonderful player for a long time.

“He does the hard work that probably gets overshadowed by things that other players do, but if you don’t have Paul Gallen in your side, you usually struggle to win matches.

“That’s how I will look back at his career.”

Having said that, Smith said Gallen had engaged in a “running battle” with Queensland crowds for some time.

“I’m tipping the crowd will give him some curry when he steps out on to Suncorp Stadium,” Smith said.

WAYNE HEMING



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