Paul Gallen can only wonder what could have been as he looks back on his State of Origin career.
The Blues skipper will retire after his 23rd Origin game next week as NSW’s most capped leader but also one who has endured its greatest failings.
Since making his Blues debut in 2006, Gallen has played every season of Queensland’s current unprecedented dominance of the interstate battle, for just one series success in 2014.
“At the moment that is the highlight of my career, there is no doubt about that, that was awesome,” Gallen said.
“I look back over the last couple of years and think what could have been.
“I missed game one last year, myself and Greg Bird, and one of the Morris boys, and then we win game two. I missed the decider in 2013 with Jarryd Hayne so I do think about the past and I think ‘God if only’.
“But you don’t get those chances in Origin and Queensland have been too good. You have to give them credit.”
After announcing he would retire following this year’s series Gallen, a lighting rod for the Blues’ repeated failures, knows it is time to go.
“I have busted my gut for NSW,” Gallen said.
“I thought the criticism (after game two) was a little bit unfair. But people are entitled to their opinion and that is the way it is.
“I am ready for it to be over, I am ready to sit back and ready to watch Origin and ready to enjoy it for what it is.”
Gallen said he didn’t expect to be affected at ANZ Stadium on July 13 for his final game.
“I don’t think I will be emotional,” he said.
“We got that series win, it has been unfortunate that we have gone down the last couple of years.
“This year has been even more disappointing (because of) the fact we couldn’t take it to a decider.
“So for me now it is all about these young blokes and helping them get through the week and taking it to the future.”