Human wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo has revealed just how close he came to joining North Queensland’s next NRL finals opponent, Cronulla.
The Kiwi Test star on Tuesday confirmed he had Sharks veteran Paul Gallen in his sights ahead of Friday night’s preliminary final at Allianz Stadium.
But Taumalolo also admitted he had Gallen in his ear during the 2015 All Stars game early last year – and very nearly signed with Cronulla as a result.
An off-contract Taumalolo was at a crossroads at North Queensland when he rubbed shoulders with Gallen as part of the NRL All Stars side on the Gold Coast.
Taumalolo weeks earlier had been spotted in The Shire meeting Cronulla officials before Gallen thought he would go in for the kill at the All Stars’ camp.
“I spoke to him a bit at the All Stars camp,” Taumalolo said of Gallen on Tuesday.
“He spoke about what Cronulla is about, as any player would try to convince another to join their club.
“(And) negotiations were pretty good with them (Cronulla).
“They were talking about having someone there when Gal retires.
“But obviously, Gal has got a fair engine – I think he has a few more years left in him.”
History shows by late February 2015, Taumalolo ignored Cronulla’s overtures and re-signed with Cowboys until the end of 2017.
Gallen might have launched a charm offensive at the 2015 All Stars camp. But Taumalolo admitted he would face a very different Gallen on Friday night after the Sharks’ veteran was cleared of a back complaint.
And it seems Taumalolo wouldn’t have it any other way after bulldozing Brisbane last week.
“He’s quite the opposite off the field to what he is on the field,” he said.
“I am more worried about his on-field side on Friday night.
“(But) I look forward to dealing with him.”
Taumalolo hopes to back up from his inspirational effort in North Queensland’s 26-20 extra-time semi-final win last Friday night over Brisbane.
The barnstorming lock amassed an incredible 263m to make a world-class Broncos pack appear second rate.
Taumalolo hoped an in-your-face Gallen again brought out the best in him.
“He loves the aggression – he loves the contact,” he said of Gallen.
“He loves giving it to other players, little elbows and extra stuff in tackles.
“But that shouldn’t effect the boys. As a team, we embrace it.
“It’s like provoking (us). The boys are able to play more aggressive and get into the contact more.”