Step aside Todd Carney (Oh, wait, you already have, to the Newtown Jets, way to be intuitive, baby, and p.s you wear blue well - not as well as you did the lime green, but still..) because WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT GAL.
I have been in the grips of a major Gal-swoon since Origin II, it shows no sign of abating, and, really, why would it? It may well be permanent.
Truth be told I'm still now coming to terms with the fuck-off incredible game he played out there on Wednesday. Whoever heard of a front rower playing for a full eighty minutes, and terrorising the opposing team THE ENTIRE TIME?? Anybody?..... Anybody? No, me either.
218 metres from 27 carries? What kind of engine does this guy have for chrissakes?
This is the man, bear in mind, who spent a sizeable portion of his 21st birthday on a rowing machine, rowing furiously, until he threw up lavishly, so we know he's no stranger to the hard yards. Obviously he was bound for Spartan glory from the get-go, and with the head he has on him is it any wonder?
Not only is the guy fit as a trout, he's classy to boot. Shrewd, too.
Gal decided that it would be him - not fellow prop Tim Mannah - who would take the first hit-up in the opening seconds of Origin II. His intention was to put his own personal stamp on the Origin clash from the outset and to show the Queensland forward pack that he would not only lead from the front, but would brutalise and destroy from the front, despite being much smaller than the average front-rower.
When asked why, specifically, he said that as a kid, he used to rush home (from punishing the equipment at a gym, it's safe to assume) to watch the first hit-up of every Origin game, as "usually the bloke got hammered". I love this comment, and the reasoning behind it. Blokes getting hammered is a fundamental reason why I watch, too; every game, every week. I think it shows not only in his game, but in everything he does, that there is not a player out there who loves the game more than Gal, and that, at heart (and know that it's a freaky, Phar Lap sized heart, too) he is just a huge, huge fan of the game who never forgets how lucky he is to actually be able to play it for a living.
I am absolutely of the opinion that the NRL needs more hard-yakka players like Paul Gallan for the future. Not only because, out on a blues bonding-session the other night he shoulder pressed a 110kg Polynesian bouncer and punched out ten squats to amuse his teammates, but because if we start breeding more eighty minute players like him we can bring the interchange down to six and have a fair-and-square, old-school style, eighty minute contest.
Remember when Greg Bird used to play for the Sharks? Me either, really, although I do remember the unsavoury manner in which he left them. Anyway, Bird and Gallen were apparently known in the Shire as The Bruise Brothers, for obvious reasons, and have remained close mates; united forever, I imagine, by their penchant for brutality. Last week Ricky Stuart, Origin culture-vulture that he is, had every NSW player pick out someone special and influential to present them with their blue jumper at Coogee Crown Plaza.
Anthony Minichello chose fiancee and shoe-queen Terry Biviano, Jarryd Hayne, Aku Uate and Trent Merrin all chose NSW great Steve Roach, Mitchell Pearce and Anthony Watmough chose their mums, Tim Mannah and Luke Lewis chose the legendary Glen Lazarus, Michael Ennis chose his wife Simone, and Greg Bird chose Paul Gallan.
On stage, Bird started to cry, could hardly speak, and struggled through a speech about how much Gal meant to him. In Blues training, apparently, Bird targets and goes after Gallen like he can't stand the sight of him, and it's been commented upon how they continually wrestle and fight in tussels that almost always end violently, yet wake up best mates every morning.
I don't know why things like this strike me as charming and emotionally stirring, but there is no denying that they do. I don't even much care for Greg Bird, if for no other reason than I suspect Ed Hardy items are a central component of his wardrobe - although I understand that if I were to judge players based solely on this criteria I would be left with, who, maybe the Ed Hardy eschewingAlan Tongue and Petero Civoniceva? - but they warm my frosty heart all the same. Obviously blokes getting hammered is not the only reason I love footy so much, then, although it certainly doesn't hurt.