The calls are coming thick and fast for a “selfish” Paul Gallen to step down from State of Origin III, but it appears the retiring Blues’ skipper is determined to play one final interstate game.
Blues coaching great Phil Gould has led the chorus of those wanting Gallen to make way for new blood after presiding over yet another Origin series defeat.
Gould has been backed up by former NSW skipper Steve Mortimer and ex-Blues firebrand Mark Geyer. NRL boss Todd Greenberg has even weighed into the debate, saying NSW need to start planning for the future when they pick their side for game three on July 13 in Sydney.
But Gallen will get his Origin farewell unless he decides to move aside after a 6-4 loss in game one and a 26-16 defeat in game two on Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium handed Queensland their 10th series in 11 years.
And Gallen had the blessing of NSW coach Laurie Daley.
A defiant Daley said on Thursday afternoon that the retiring Gallen would play his final Origin game in the dead rubber.
“If Gal is fit, he will be there,” Daley said after the Blues landed at Sydney Airport.
“There is no such thing as a dead rubber in Origin and we will be out there to win.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion but Gal has been a great leader for us and he will be there.”
Gallen wasn’t keen to discuss the issue.
“No, not at the moment,” he told AAP.
Gallen, however, had previously indicated he would play in game three even if it was a dead rubber. The Cronulla skipper could step down from his post with the Blues to concentrate on the Sharks’ premiership aspirations but he appears determined to play one last Origin game.
And there are suggestions the NSWRL is already planning a farewell for Gallen, with thousands of face masks of the Blues’ veteran to be made available at ANZ Stadium for his final game.
However, Daley did concede several NSW players would likely play their final game in Origin III.
That could include Robbie Farah, Greg Bird and Michael Jennings.
“There will probably be a few at the end of this season that will move on,” Daley said.
Daley has not ruled out making some changes to his vanquished side to blood young players such as James Tedesco and Bryce Cartwright.
“We have brought in nine new players over the past two years and, whether we introduce a few more, we will decide that over the next week or so,” Daley said.
The former Origin great also said he was determined to continue as coach despite his third loss in four series and that Adam Reynolds could play in game three despite suffering a shoulder injury in the 26-16 defeat at Suncorp.
NSW’s most successful coach Phil Gould slammed the leadership of Gallen and Blues vice-captain Robbie Farah in the aftermath of another series loss.
“Over a period of time, I have said I have been astonished by the selfishness around this camp and around this team and in the leadership group and I don’t think it has allowed the team to evolve and to have its own culture and its own chemistry,” Gould said.
Greenberg urged the Blues to look to the future when selecting their game-three side.
“What I think we will see is, NSW start their campaign for 2017 and that campaign will start in game three,” Greenberg said.