Blues captain Paul Gallen has revealed that 2016's State of Origin series will be his last – even if he plays on for Cronulla next year.
Gallen said the decision became clearer when he suffered what he thought was a career-ending knee injury while playing for Cronulla at the start of the year.
"This will be my last Origin series, there's no doubt about that. I probably haven't said that before but this will be my last Origin series," Gallen said at ANZ Stadium for the official launch of the 2016 Origin series on Tuesday.
"It's my last year on contract; I haven't decided if I'm going to play next year or not, I have to get back from this injury first but if I am lucky enough to go around next year it will just be for Cronulla and this will be my last series as an Origin player so it means a lot to me," he added.
The 34-year-old has repeatedly stated he would make a call on next year after seeing how he went over the opening few months of 2016 – something he conceded hadn't started well on the injury front – but with his knee injury revealed to be less serious than feared, Gallen is now preparing to play his second game of the year this weekend and his final Origin series after that.
Gallen played 47 minutes against the Cowboys in Round 1 before a knee injury ended his night and seemingly his career which prompted the decision.
"It was probably after I hurt my knee Round 1, I had a chat to my missus and a few close friends and thought it was probably time to give it one more crack then move on," Gallen said.
"I just think I'm getting on a bit, I've got to understand that. I still feel as long as I'm playing well enough I'm the best person for the position to play in the side and hopefully there's going to be younger blokes coming up and knocking on my door to get rid of me.
"That's what I want, I don't want to not play because I'm not good enough, I want it to be because there's someone better than me for the position.
"Hopefully there is – there are some young guys coming up but whether they're ready this year I'm not too sure."
Gallen said a rare chance to play two games in Sydney and with a chance to redeem last year's horror Game III loss provided the perfect opportunity to call time on his interstate career.
"I've been involved now for a while and early on in my career never got the opportunity to play all three games and only once in my career I've had the opportunity to play two games in Sydney – that was in 2008," Gallen said.
NSW have had two home games only three times in the past 10 years – 2008, 2010 and 2013 – and through a combination of selection and injury Gallen played a full series only once in those three, back in 2008.
"In 2013 I was injured and missed the decider... For me it'd be great and just for the whole of NSW. [Three times] in 10 years we've had the opportunity to play two games in NSW so to be able to pack this place out, hopefully a lot of Blatchy's Blues and just get 82, 83,000 people there for two games would be a big plus for us," he said.
He also revealed he had not yet informed Blues coach Laurie Daley of his decision.
"I haven't really told him yet. I did ring him on the Sunday [after the Cowboys game] and told him I'm done when they told me I'd done my ACL so that was a bit of a tough phone call so I better go tell him after this!" Gallen laughed.
Reflecting on his legacy, Gallen was philosophical about the moderate level of success he had achieved compared to some of his predecessors in the face of an all-conquering Maroons outfit but hoped he would be remembered as someone who always did his job for the team.
"Unfortunately I'm probably not going to be seen as having the success as others have had because of, unfortunately, NSW's [lack of] success but I don't think there's a doubt there's a reason Queensland hate me so much and that's because I do my job on the field and I'll always be proud of that," Gallen said.
"I've always put my best foot forward for anyone I've played with so I think I'll be remembered as a tough, good Origin player and hopefully I can go out on a high."