Gallen ponders another year
Sharks skipper Paul Gallen said he's enjoying his first proper pre-season in around eight years and his previous indication that 2016 would be his last season is far from set in stone.
Fit and injury free with last year's hip dramas all resolved, Gallen said he has never once woken up and not wanted to go to training and feels he is still improving in the gym.
"I'll just take it as it comes. I've got no doubt in my football ability. When I play, even this year I thought I played great every game I played and it will be the same next year, it's not going to be an issue with that," Gallen said.
"It's just going to be the week-in week-out training and if I'm still enjoying that. I am at the moment. I reckon I'll give it the first three months of the season til about Round 12, about Origin time I suppose and if I'm still really loving it and still enjoying it and not having any issues getting up and out of bed and I want to go again that's going to be another decision for the club and we'll have to go through that process again."
With last year's contract dramas turning into a long and protracted process – before finally settling on a one-year deal with an agreement for a post-football ambassador role – Gallen hoped any new round of negotiations would be smoother.
He added the fact he was enjoying his football again after a tough couple of seasons was also a factor.
"I love the game and I love training and getting up in the morning. There's not one day I've gotten up and thought 'I don't want to go to training today'. I've spoken to a number of ex-players who got to that stage where they started asking the question 'do I want to be doing this' but I've never asked that question of myself," he said.
"I look at what I do at training. When older guys have to miss training because they have a sore knee or sore shoulder – I've never had those issues, I don't miss training, I'm still getting better in the gym, I'm still fit. As long as I'm still improving there and still playing well there's no reason I can't keep playing."
He said things looked serious in 2015 when he was sidelined with a major hip injury but those issues were in the past.
"It was pretty touch and go last year, I had one guy tell me 'you could be in trouble here career-wise' but we let it get better. It did take nine or 10 weeks, it was a fair time out but I didn't have any issues the rest of the year when I came back so that's fine," he said.
Gallen said the tough Cronulla pre-season had also been enjoyable and had even gone back early in order to take a pre-Christmas holiday with his family.
"It's been good. Pretty tough. I actually went back about 10 days earlier than I was supposed to go back in order to have a week off last week and take the family away because Christmas is just too busy for myself with families all over the place," he said.
"I had a good week away with the family and been back this week. It's been a hard week to be honest. Everyone's going really well down there, things are looking good."
Gallen reflected on just how long it had been since he had had a proper pre-season due to representative commitments.
"I actually said to Chris Heighington, we were talking about it the other day. Probably since 2007 I reckon I haven't done anything before December really. Even last year with the other drama we went through I didn't come back until December then I had a fight on so I was probably back for two weeks and that was about it so it's been my first pre-season in a long, long time."