Gallen criticism unwarranted: Flanagan
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has defended Paul Gallen amidst calls for the New South Wales skipper to be denied a farewell State of Origin match in Game Three.
The Blues' 26-16 loss on Wednesday saw Queensland secure their 10th series win in 11 years, with the positions of NSW veterans Gallen, Greg Bird and Michael Jennings coming under scrutiny in the aftermath.
Flanagan said the criticism of Gallen was unwarranted and believes he'll be one of the first players picked for July 13's Origin III despite a number of prospective Blues back-rowers waiting in the wings.
"I thought Gal played really well the other night, he did his job. I don't think there are too many people criticising the way Gal actually played, but if he gets picked on form and picked on his last game, he'll be picked," Flanagan said.
"Some of those comments have become personal. Let's just judge Gal on his performance. Some people are saying Gal gets the ball too much but that is the team structure and that's the coach's job to make sure he doesn't."
"As Paul's coach, as someone who has been involved in Origin at a minor level and being around footy for most of my life, Gal is one of the best players in NSW and he deserves to get picked and I hope he gets picked," Flanagan added.
"I'm not thinking about Cronulla in these things. I would like to see him go out in his last Origin because he has been a great servant for NSW."
Flanagan also said New South Wales supporters have a reputation of "eating" themselves after every loss, despite being up against a team which is "just too good".
An assistant to Blues coach Craig Bellamy between 2008 and 2010, Flanagan said it has to get to a point where NSW fans recognise Queensland for their amazing achievements over the past decade.
"We all need to have a look at ourselves. I was taught as a young bloke to go out there and play as hard as you can. If you're not good enough then you sit back and applaud the opposition," Flanagan said.
"NSW are playing against a super side, with half a dozen or more of the best players in the competition. Along with definitely the best hooker I have ever seen and a five-eighth who will probably be the best we'll ever see to date.
"We should look at the Queensland side as one of the best sides we have ever seen.
"I remember when I was in Origin with Craig Bellamy – Craig's probably one of the best coaches I've been involved with, he worked his butt off and we couldn't beat them. It's been the case for the past couple of years.
"We need to stop eating ourselves and let's stand up and applaud the Queensland side. It's hard for me to say that but they are a quality team and they are just too good."
Flanagan also confirmed Origin quartet Gallen, James Maloney, Andrew Fifita and Jack Bird would all be fit to play the Warriors on Saturday evening.