Desperate Cronulla veteran Paul Gallen will look to overturn a miserable losing record when he renews hostilities with long-time nemesis Cameron Smith in this year’s NRL grand final.
Not only is the Sharks skipper burdened by the club’s 50-year wait for its maiden premiership, but Gallen also hasn’t tasted victory over Smith at club level since 2008.
Gallen was missing in Cronulla’s only two wins over the Storm in that 13-game period, adding to Smith’s dominance over the retired NSW captain at State of Origin level.
The ill-feeling was only enhanced when Gallen was upset by Maroons players breaking out in Queensland’s victory song after a Kangaroos win in 2012.
But the Sharks star will on Sunday get a supreme chance to get one over his Melbourne counterpart in a calendar year where tension between the arch rivals hit new heights.
It was only in July when the Maroons labelled Gallen’s post-Origin snub of Smith’s victory speech as disrespectful.
“It’s something our team wouldn’t do,” Smith said at the time.
“We didn’t walk away (when NSW won in 2014). We made a point of staying there for Paul’s speech and him lifting the shield.”
Smith’s Storm booked a grand final date with the Sharks after edging out Canberra on Saturday night, but Smith only had nice things to say about the Sharks leader.
“I always enjoy playing against Gal. I see him a bit because we play in the middle,” he said.
“”I’m pleased for Gal. He has waited a long time for this. He works hard every time he pulls on the jersey. He has given a lot to the Cronulla club over many years.”
Smith has won 27 of his 40 career games against Gallen at either Origin or club level, however hasn’t lost to the back-rower in a Sharks jumper in nine games dating back to 2008.