Melbourne captain Cameron Smith is pleased long-time nemesis and rival skipper Paul Gallen will get a shot at an elusive premiership for Cronulla in the NRL grand final.
The State of Origin skippers will renew hostilities for the sixth time this year after the Storm booked their spot in Sunday’s decider with a tense preliminary final win over Canberra.
Smith has claimed victory in three of the five meetings between the pair this year, two of them with Queensland in the Maroons’ triumph, and the third in a round 26 wipeout in Melbourne.
He also has a supreme advantage in grand finals, featuring in five for three wins, while Gallen will be making his first appearance on the first Sunday in October.
Smith couldn’t be any happier for his interstate counterpart.
“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 wasn’t as effusive in his appraisal of Gallen and the NSW team after game three, when the Maroons star was left unimpressed with the Blues snubbing his victory speech in Sydney.
The Sharks captain later defended his snub by explaining that he was farewelling Blues fans.
“It’s something our team wouldn’t do,” Smith said at the time.
“”We didn’t walk away (when the Blues won in 2014). We made a point of staying there for Paul’s speech and him lifting the shield and congratulating their victory.”
Smith has won 27 of the 40 games played 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.