Leading role for Gallen: off the block

Paul Gallen leads out the NSW team with the State of Origin shield. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Paul Gallen leads out the NSW team with the State of Origin shield. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Paul  Gallen should be NSW captain again next year.

As long as he's fit and his form is impressive enough, then he should be the first man Laurie Daley picks when the Blues try and retain the shield in 2015.

His ASADA ban will have expired by then, he's served his punishment - whether or not you agree with what the penalty is - and should be allowed to move on.

Gallen has poured his heart and soul into the NSW cause in the years we couldn't beat Queensland and shouldn't be denied a chance to create an era of success now.

The circumstances may be different, but look at Shane Warne's cricket career.

He had 12 months out of the game for a diuretic, saying he had taken a fluid tablet and was unaware it was on the banned list.

The NRL players involved in this ASADA investigation have maintained all along they, too, were unaware they were given banned substances.

It's up to ASADA and WADA to build the case and present the penalty as they have done.

Now they've banned Gallen from the Dally M awards, which will be held while the ban is in place.

When it expires Gallen has a job to do, along with Shane Flanagan, helping to rebuild the Sharks.

Gallen is a leader at Cronulla and also for NSW, the players look up to him.

Laurie wouldn't want to unsettle the camp next year after the Blues finally put their hands on the shield. We need to maintain the momentum.

There may be pressure or scrutiny from outside, but there will also be plenty of support from within the playing group and coaching staff for Gallen to be the captain again.

Let's be clear about Paul McGregor’s appointment, he was the  only  man for the job.

The Dragons wanted Wayne Bennett, but as soon as he decided to move back to Brisbane, this columnist cannot believe it took the club so long to appoint McGregor.

McGregor is a mate of mine, but he has a great rugby league brain and a lot of respect in the NRL.

There was the talk of bringing Tim Sheens in – and sure, he has a long record of achievement in the game.

But there’s a lot of younger coaches with the ability to be successful in the NRL, like Brad Arthur at Parramatta and Paul Green at the Cowboys.

For now, Mary’s focus will be on making the finals with the Dragons, which can only happen if they beat the Broncos in Brisbane on Friday night.

The win over the Titans showed the squad wants to play for McGregor, they really lifted at Kogarah on Sunday.

The next task  for McGregor is to take control of the club’s direction and make a couple of signings  within what space they have left under  the salary cap.

He might have to shuffle the deck a little bit, but Mary knows he’ll need a couple of big boppers to come in and add some size and punch to the Dragons for next year.

Now Mary has been appointed for three years, he has the authority to put those plans in place, which could not be done while he was in the  ‘‘interim’’ role after succeeding Steve Price.

Their backline is outstanding with the big names of Morris, Nightingale, Dugan, Beale, Widdop and Marshall.

Unlike some other clubs, the Dragons don’t need a huge overhaul.


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