Gallen ignores grand final talk
The winner of this weekend's semi-final between the Cowboys and Sharks will head to Melbourne with a place in the grand final on the line, but Sharks captain Paul Gallen doesn't want to hear any of it.
Even after their 16-point victory to prevent reigning premiers South Sydney from going back-to-back, and earning the respect of their coach Michael Maguire in the meantime, Gallen said he'll talk about grand finals if and when they make it.
"We're not worrying about winning a premiership just yet. We're worried about playing the Cowboys this weekend," Gallen said.
"It's a big game for us, a big challenge up there in North Queensland. The bigger the challenge the greater the reward I suppose so we're just worried about getting it done."
Gallen also refused to buy into the prospects of a flat North Queensland outfit following their brutal encounter with the Broncos on Saturday night, where they were pipped by four points to be denied a week off.
"They have a seven-day turnaround so I don't think it's going to be an issue for them at all. I don't think it'll take any petrol out of their team," Gallen said.
"They're a fit side. They play that fast brand of football all season. We also don't have to talk about how good JT [Johnathan Thurston] is. They've got a good forward pack as well.
"They have their two front-rowers and [Jason] Taumalolo so it's going to be a big challenge for us. We need to control their forwards first to limit the amount of space JT has."
Sporting a battered and bruised face after copping an unintentional eye gouge from Luke Keary, Gallen was happy to see the Rabbitohs five-eighth get away lightly after only copping a week's suspension for a grade one dangerous contact charge.
"I don't think he meant to eye gouge me at all. But it's just part of what happened," Gallen said.
"There's no issue with [my eye] at all. I had a little bit of blurred vision when it first happened, but it was gone after two to three minutes, it was just a scratch.
"I was actually laughing with one of their front-rowers about it. I said to his front-rower, I like that Keary kid. He's got a lot of spunk about him. He's a tough little bugger, doesn't take a backward step, he's a great competitor and a good player."
Speaking of the charge sheet Gallen was relieved to see teammate Michael Ennis escape suspension with an early guilty plea following his high shot on Chris McQueen at the weekend.
"It was a high tackle. I think it was incidental rather than accidental. There was certainly no malice in it. To be given a grade one for that I thought was a little bit harsh, but that's just the way it is," Gallen said.
"Fortunately, he's able to play. I think [he's been the buy of the year]. I don't know if anyone can really doubt that. He's a quality player. He's been really good for us all year and hopefully he can keep going."